John Luciano says that Concord Records is “about the only record company supporting jazz in a big way these days (thank God for an independent label).” The label distributes music from Heads Up (home of too numerous to mention contemporary jazz acts), Peak Records (home to a good number of contemporary jazz artists), Stretch Records (Chick Corea’s label), and others. The best-selling saxophonists in smooth jazz are on their roster – Kenny G and Boney James. The best thing about the label is that they successfully market their recordings. You can see and hear them – often on display – at Borders, Barnes & Noble, and other popular retailers who sell music. Their press releases are actually picked up by the press. A press release for Marcus Miller’s latest, Marcus, strives to promote the artist in addition to the recording, stating that he isn’t the “household name he should be.” Like John L. wrote in his review, I also haven’t paid attention to Kenny G for about 15 years but, due to media promotion, I know his new release is Latin-influenced. With the abundance of ways people can get news today, getting the word out where the greatest number of people can read it is difficult. Given that Concord is an independent label and no doubt has a tiny staff for jazz promotion, it’s all the more admirable. Congratulations to Concord’s team(s) for helping to keep contemporary jazz in the public eye.
Grammy winners usually see a bump in sales. So, what is the best-selling recording today on Amazon.com? It’s not Amy Winehouse and it’s not Kanye. Jazz rules the music sales charts today. Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters may double its sales in one day. It’s only sold about 53,000 copies since it’s release last autumn.
I know I’ve written a lot about this already but this is one of, if not the, biggest thing to happen in jazz in years. I’ve already posted about the immediate sales impact for River: The Joni Letters, Herbie Hancock’s winning recording for the Grammy Album of the Year. Now the sales for the week are in. Sales jumped an astronomical 967%. It vaulted from 159 to 5 on the Billboard Top Albums chart. A jazz album in the top five?! Has that happened in my lifetime? It sold 54,000 copies. I thought it had sold 53,000 total so far but Variety says the 54k number is just short of its cumulative sales. It’s awesome to see jazz in the mainstream press, as it’s increasingly rare unless it’s an obituary. Herbie will receive more mainstream exposure on Friday, February 22, when he’ll perform with singer Luciana Souza on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”