I am a big fan of jazz, as I have told you in my previous posts. I truly believe jazz is the only veritable music written for the soul, but, unfortunately, it seems that our fellow Americans are far from sharing my views. Apparently, jazz lovers are soon to be reduced to a handful of select few, and it is not me that says that. The numbers are appalling.
A report from 2014 clearly shows that just 1.4% of all US citizens are still listening to jazz. Now how sad is that? At least, until 2014, it looked as if jazz was in desirable company, since about the same percentage of Americans was listening to classical music. The fact is that sales for classical music are on the rise, while jazz remains stranded far behind. In all of 2014, according to the same study, just 5.2 million albums were sold by jazz artists in the US.
So, who is killing jazz and why is this happening? I must say that I have personally given it a lot of thought, but I also lurked the net a bit to find what others have to say. Apparently, everybody and their mom have a thought on the matter. I will stick to what stood out as more widespread points of view, to make things simpler.
- Aging audience. This one clearly sounds legit. Even for me, jazz is related to a feeling of nostalgia that reminds me of the good old days, so I’m bound to stick with it, because this music genre makes me feel happy. Now, I am not talking strictly about myself, since I am not that old; but many of those who still love jazz are people in their 70s or older, and they are no longer keen to trying new technologies, so jazz cannot really take advantage of the revolution currently happening on the internet.
- Jazz has constantly distanced itself from being a dance music genre. From the days of the swing, jazz has gone a long way, and it has evolved into a more sophisticated music genre. Since young people prefer music they can dance to, they are not attracted to other genres.
- Black artists prefer hip hop to jazz. Although there are artists of various ethnicities playing jazz, the truth is the biggest jazz artists who have ever lived were black. Today, black artists prefer other genres that define them, such as hip hop, which is a largely commercial success. In the US, only rock goes stronger than hip hop.
- Jazz counter-culture is no longer here. There has been more to jazz than the music that used to appeal to so many people in the past. Jazz was part of a cool, authentic, hip counter-culture that many wanted to embrace. Unfortunately, we can no longer say that this is the truth today.
I am quite sad that jazz is no longer popular with the young crowd, but I hope that there will still be people who will appreciate the rich sound and greatness of this music genre.