Twenty years ago this month, I launched this site.
Where does the time go? When I started out in 1996, I was 25 years old. Being a fan of contemporary jazz was a core part of my identity. I seemed to have all the time in the world. I loved working on the site as much as possible. My wife and the site were my top passions. Since then, a lot has happened with me and contemporary jazz. I found a deeper passion – being a father. I could not be more blessed with my two wonderful children. Contemporary jazz was overshadowed by smooth jazz. And then vocals became the thing – the worst music I remember is when instrumentalists tried to be singers. Illegal downloading cut into record company profits and genres were cut. Jazz, with a couple of rare exceptions, was solely delegated to independent labels. The smooth jazz radio format disappeared. Touring seems to have been eliminated.
At least, that’s what I’ve observed.
Today, it’s easier than ever to find the music you want to hear through an abundance of online radio and services. AccuJazz has nearly every type of jazz you can imagine. For ten dollars a month you can listen to almost any recording with Google Play Music or Apple Music. Getting the word out is the hard part. Without a centralized hub, you can’t spread the word to the masses. So artists are on their own a lot to get the word out. I think most of them want to make music and not spend time with the business and marketing aspect of it. You can communicate with your existing audience with social media but how do you build a new audience? It’s the best of times and the worst of times for some. Record labels were sometimes seen as a pain if they insisted on a certain type of record or a set number of vocals. But they had a resource or resources to get the music to people who could write about it or play it. Now there is freedom from record companies since you can pretty easily sell your music online but the outreach is gone.
This is speculation on my part. I’m a communicator, not a musician. Your thoughts are welcome.
I have plans for ContemporaryJazz.com. It’s been an important part of my life and I’ll never let it go. So stay tuned as I am determined to have 40th and 60th anniversaries too!
First logo for the site, made in late 1995 with Paint Shop Pro: