excerpt from article:


the bad news came from the national endowment for the arts’ latest survey of ­public participation in the arts, the fourth to be conducted by the nea (in participation with the u.s. census bureau) since 1982. these are the findings that made jazz musicians sit up and take ­notice:

• in 2002, the year of the last survey, 10.8% of adult americans attended at least one jazz performance. in 2008, that figure fell to 7.8%.

• not only is the audience for jazz shrinking, but it’s growing older—fast. the median age of adults in america who attended a live jazz performance in 2008 was 46. in 1982 it was 29.  

• older people are also much less likely to attend jazz performances today than they were a few years ago. the percentage of americans between the ages of 45 and 54 who attended a live jazz performance in 2008 was 9.8%. in 2002, it was 13.9%. that’s a 30% drop in attendance.

• even among ­college-educated adults, the audience for live jazz has shrunk significantly, to 14.9% in 2008 from 19.4% in 1982.

these numbers indicate that the audience for jazz in america is both aging and shrinking at an alarming rate. what i find no less revealing, though, is that the median age of the jazz audience is now comparable to the ages for attendees of live performances of classical music (49 in 2008 vs. 40 in 1982), opera (48 in 2008 vs. 43 in 1982), nonmusical plays (47 in 2008 vs. 39 in 1982) and ballet (46 in 2008 vs. 37 in 1982). in 1982, by contrast, jazz fans were much younger than their high-culture counterparts.
There are 37 comments, leave a comment.
this is not isolated to jazz.  fine arts in general have seen pretty much the same statistics.
if jazzers want to be part of the "new world" they need to be a part of it.  put on podcasts, have their music on itunes, advance the music so it doesn't sound like 1950 all the time, do something more than play the same bebop lines over and over and over again.

some jazzers have packed halls.  look at that great pianist from japan, hiromi (sorry, not quite sure what her name is) who dazzles audiences with not only her playing but her personality, brad mehldau who takes popular songs of today and makes something out of them, herbie who has never stagnated, etc...  

but for all those people who put together bands that sound just like horace silver or bird and diz, they'll always be able to play their cafes and other clubs just like they've been doing for decades.

any art that does not move with society is bound to die in some ways, jazz is no different.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

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maybe this is good news.  maybe with its decline in popularity americans will finally start teaching their own music in public schools (jazz) instead of europian music.. classical.
i think that the stagnant nature of jazz is a turn off to younger listeners who's music is electronic, pretty loud, and practically minimalist these days.  (4 on the floor beat during the entire song, two chords, minimal melody, ect.)  i think that the blues is in the same boat in some ways.  i read a review of hot tuna at bonnaroo a year or two ago, and the reviewer (who appeared to be young but it was hard to tell) said that their blues songs didn't do anything for him, and that there were probably countless numbers of 50-something guys in their basements jamming on the same thing.
also to keep in mind, there are a lot of young lions out there who can play anything they want to on their instruments.  and, there are huge jazz festivals that continue to draw thousands.

times will change, cultural desires will change, but there will always be people who appreciate creativity.

right now the world is worried about war, suicide bombers, money woes, etc etc... but once things settle down there will be more energy to spare for leisure activities, especially challenging leisure activities such as jazz.  

it's not going to die, but it must evolve and people are making that happen.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
what do you think is going to happen in the future with music?
is music creativity going to stop?

the world has already invented the majority of music. what more can be created?

what is music gonna be like 60 years from now? are we still going to be listening to rock music and pop?
let me travel back to the future...
i think jazz --like classical music--will always be around, but will never enjoy the popularity it once had. there will always be a segment of the population interested in the harmonic and timing structure of music, and continue to explore it in jazz. however, all mainsteam music is more about what one does socially when music is being performed or listened to.
as long as a music continues to be taught, it will continue to be played.

what this article fails to take into account is the decline in music attendance that is now affecting every facet of the music business and not just jazz.

i used to like going to huge concerts, but now what with the traffic hassles, time consuming parking problems (and then getting from your car to the front gate), the crush of the crowd (and the waiting in line) and all the rest of the effects of being surrounded by large numbers of people (theft, assault, jostling, etc), i'd much rather go to a nice intimate little club where i can have a comfortable drink and talk over the music (if i so desire).

jazz lends itself well to small clubs with a cozy atmosphere. i don't really give a damn if jazz acts can't fill a stadium anymore.

as long as the musicians are putting their heart and soul into the music, that's what i go for.

for all the naysayers that lament the "jazz is dead" then why is it that there are literally hundreds of venues in the los angeles area that host live jazz on a regular basis, hmmm?
i don't know if it's different in the us, but here in europe, the music is being taken in all kinds of different directions by a whole bunch of different players.  in that sense, over here, the music has never been more alive.  

it may be true that the popularity of jazz is in declibe amongst the general population, i don't know.  hopefully this will be countered though by the opportunities to showcase your music on the internet.  for example, i watched 7's fantastic new promo video online the other day.  20 years ago, i wouldn't even know he existed as he's on the other side of the world from me!

i think the attendance of grass roots music across all genres is suffering as, for many people, live music isn't seen as 'enough' anymore; it has to be the background or accompaniment to something (eg ating).  i personally think it's got a lot to do with the fact that the constant playing of music everywhere in the background has taught a generation to ignore music most of the time, but that's another topic.

jazz isn't going anywhere though, great music is great music and it will continue to evolve and adapt itself to the demands of the times as it always has.  it may fluctuate in popularity, but i would say jazz is probably far more popular today that it was in the 1980s so it's certainly not all doom and gloom.

just because more people may prefer sitting in and watching x-factor than going to gigs doesn't mean that the music will die.  jazz ain't pop music anymore and i'm not sure that's a bad thing.  at least it keeps the likes of simon cowell from calling the shots on what kind of jazz we will be listening to this year!
jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny.

wow, barry what an endorsement! thanks so much! and welcome back!

for anyone who would like to watch my "fantastic" video and hasn't yet (or if you just want to bump up my youtube hits), here's the url again:

just to echo what barry said, i'm in my mid-twenties (when i joined this board i was still in high school, scary huh?) and i was amazed over the past year when i asked some non-musicians (key point) who were my age and younger if they ever set time aside to actively listen to music.  most said no, they just turned it on as background while in the car, on the computer, running, walking, ect.  i couldn't believe it.
jazz has been in commercial trouble thru most of my adult life (i'm 56).  it will survive because the musicians, who love sophisticated music will keep it alive.

it would be nice if a few of the younger people figure a new presentation for jazz - not the classic forms. jamie cullum has had some success, but i am thinking something more radical that would appeal more to younger fans.  it is always the youth which start theses kinds of things.

i did see a 'rap-jazz' band in new orleans in a small club about 10 years ago (off bourbon st, obviously) with an entire brass section - didn't seem to start a new genre, though.
you know, i don't think that jazz has ever been commercially viable.  it's not a commercial music.  it has maybe only very briefly been "popular".  to be popular, music has to appeal to the masses.  jazz leans towards the "serious" or "classical" side of music.
however, david baker answered a question once "what is the purpose of learning to play jazz (when it's not very popular and there aren't any gigs)?  and baker answered "we are creating the audience".
all these jazz programs in colleges, they really have created an audience for jazz.  maybe not a huge audience, but an audience nonetheless.
interesting point cynbad, although i am always intrigued by how few musicians go to gigs on the local scene.  if there is a 'big name' in town then you'll see all the players but for the normal bread-and-butter gigs in bars and restaurants, it's unusual to see many players there unless it's a jam session.

it seems that, here at least, if they can't get up and play themselves, many musicians don't want to know.  it's a real shame as there are definitely the players and personalities to build a brilliant sense of community but it's not really happening at the moment.

i'd be interested to know if this is a local thing or whether the same is true of elsewhere...
personally i am more inclined to go out to play than go out to listen. i think much of it has to do with time. the older i get (i'm now 35) the faster time seems to fly and the more i want to spend what spare time i have improving my playing. perhaps it's a shame, but i just don't like being a spectator, i like to be involved in the ride.

in my opinion, improvised music will never die. there will always be those who want to break free from rules. improvising is the spirit of freedom.
to be honest, jazz music can be intimidating for non-musicians to listen to. hell, its even for me sometimes, but i personally think that it should start in education, show students what jazz is about. i think there is a lack of education in the public schools. furthermore, in the college world, most jazz students in college are specializing. its not the main part of the curriculum, and it should be. for god sake, its an original american artform.  

many of my friends are music education majors, and they are so clueless how to play a blues, much less introduce jazz to there students and direct a jazz ensemble. so education is important, if we get them when there young, then we'll see a larger audience grow.  

but then again, i'm preaching to the choir here... aren't i?
i do understand paul's pov where he has limited time and wants to spend it playing rather than listening.

however, if nate is right and jazz is music for musicians, that could explain why attendances at grass roots gigs are poor - it's musicians music that musicians don't want to come and hear!  if we turn kids onto jazz, won't they become players and therefore stop coming to gigs? ;-)

do you think it's the case that, unless it's performed by a 'great', jazz is a lot more fun to play than to listen to?
my love of jazz is not so blind that i enjoy going out to see any group playing just because it is jazz. if there are great players playing (not just "greats") of course i'll go and hear. but if it's not players i admire, i'd just as soon see any other style of music other than jazz.

here's the problem with jazz today: there is way too much bad jazz being played -- it's completely pervasive, and so people associate this crappy inoffensive background music they can get for free at their lame restaurant with the term jazz. they'd never knew what to do if they ahmad jamal, that group smoldered like no other.

bad jazz is lamer, in my opinion, than any other bad playing in a genre of music. it's just stupid, and lame. there is so much crappy, i can't think of any term for it but "everybody loves raymond-jazz" (hopefully you might know what i mean). this bad jazz is so pervasive, and it's what most people think of when they think of jazz. i've known a few people who've told me they "hate" jazz, but when i've had a love supreme, crescent, or e.s.p. on in the car they will listen in awed silence and be like "wait, this isn't jazz, right? this has to be another genre, right?"

i do worry about one thing - that many people are simply unable to process harmonically complex music.  it's sort of like being color blind - it sounds like a lot of noise to the musically simple.  not that it necessarily correlates with intelligence.  i think of jazz appreciation as a cognitive enhancement that a relatively small proportion of the population enjoy.  obviously, many that do are musicians themselves.
hey hepcat, i can appreciate mor "raymond" jazz as well as ornette coleman and "ascension."  it's just apples and oranges.  if someone gets into jazz from listening to one of the breaks on npr, that's fine with me too.

neat analogy!  

i have never in my life compared music to food...
pop = audience of thousands listening to musicians playing three chords.
jazz = audience of three listening to musicians playing thousands of chords.

case in point:
    i was talking to an excellent musician i had not seen in quite a while the other day.  he was complaining about jazz audiences dying.
he plays at this club that calls itself a jazz club.  i have always called it a sing along club.  it is a club with a regular clientelle where the areas well established older jazz musicians have played for years.  the club has always let and encouraged crusty old people to sing along they even give them microphones.  sometimes the musicias are quiete good.  but the sing slongers quite often make it unbearable.  for the most part no one under 50 years old would be caugt dead in the place.  now the regular clientell is quite literally dying off.  i mean they are dying of old age.  so my old musician buddy is complaining jazz is dying.  
    meanwhile there is a club down the road that is packing them in on the same night that has an out of site great band playing everything from marly to bluegrass to garth brooks to zepplin.  they can be playing "on the dock of the bay"  and before you know it ... it turns into an all out coltranessque jam.  it is unquestionably jazz but the audience of younger people love it and they dance to it.  jazz aint dead in that club and the club is making a small fortune on it.  my older musician buddy didnt get it. he said  young kid music huh?.
nope all out impovisation.. played by peopld trained in jazz who can play there asses off but who have figured out how to do in a way people will come out for.  you know if people will no longer come out and hear the old cats play "misty" with old hospice peple singing along  i could not give a shit as long as people can still dig a jam session being played by great players in happening club at night.
i agree with glandoc-"i do worry about one thing - that many people are simply unable to process harmonically complex music"
the music young people are listening too is generally non-melodic, harmonically lacking, and rhythmically conceived to a dumbed down mob mentality. since this is their identity music growing up with, i cringe that this is what they'll most likely still be listening to into old age. yikes.
on another note, i've been in a locally based big band for a couple years playing original charts performed by maynard, buddy rich, kenton, etc.
the audiences ages for private events that book us are generally 30 and up. but at public jobs young people dance and listen and like the music. i'm convinced young people just don't get enough media exposure to jazz.
the band members surely don't perform to get rich. i joined to get better at sight reading, and it's helped me much.  
i'll end with this. there is a pick up big band that plays the charts at a brewery once a month near me. this brewery profits have gone up double digits every year. guess what the band gets paid? no money.  
a couple pitchers of beer and some pizza. the owners say it doesn't help their bottom line though the room is packed.  
the look on young kids faces though when they hear the band playing these charts though is obvious. they have never heard this type of music up close. sad times for music, but jazz will never go away.
baloney.  people like music that is fun to listen to and/or makes them feel good.  people have never listened to music because they think it has good harmony or melodies.  bebop was not a popular music music when max roach and company invented nor was it shortyly thereafter nor is it now.  there was a particular type of jazz at one time that people thought was fun and felt good.  now we go to a gig and we can not understand why people do not appreciate donna lee, giant steps and 'round midnight anymore...   oh boo hoo,  jazz is dead... nonsense... people never did appreciate that jazz except for a select few ... and then there was an illusion that it was appreciated on a grand scale because of the commercial success of jazz festivals and because it became cool like fonzy for a while to say you liked jazz even though most people who said they liked it would not have been caught dead actually listening to it.  the music i hear kids listening to in the clubs when i go out has every bit as much harmony and melody as the music did when i was a kid.  i believe any claim to the contrary is hogwash.
i completely agree with you mike on your last comment.  well put.
    on another note to use hot tuna as an example of modern blues is very very silly.  how about someone like ronnie baker brooks, bernard allison, shemekia copeland?  those are blues musicians who are taking it to a whole another level.  the music is still very much alive.
"the music i hear kids listening to in the clubs when i go  out has every bit as much harmony and melody as the music did when i was a kid.  i believe any claim to the contrary is hogwash."

really? seems like every time i heard some rap tune its basically a one note melody and monotonous beat. jazzers vamped on one note but not for a whole song.
i guess dumbing music down and making stars out of people who's only talent is a pissed off attitude is something that the masses can relate to. that crap should of been a quick novelty way back. the fact it still gets pushed is a sad state of affairs.
the fact is that when i was a kid there was no more jazz in clubs than there is now  and  there is not hardly any rap in clubs where i live right now either.  so to think the world has gone from jazz to rap is a ridiculous characterization of the state of music.
fact is rap takes a certain amount of talent or ability that no one where i live has.  i wish i could go out and here some good rap locally.
with jazz no one really wanted to hear it when i was a kid and it is the same now.  people do go out for sing along of old standards and call it jazz.  there are clubs here like that.  and you can here some
sneaking in some jazz when they are playing backround music in restaurants.  with the exception of bigger names in larger concert venues that is pretty much how it was when i was younger and how it remains today.  i hear it was different in ellingtons day when jazzz bands played music that drew a dance crowd.  but i was not alive then.
"...if someone writes a good song, there still are musicians than can embellish/improvise well with it."
that is a good point.  look at mehldau recording a radiohead song.
i for one would like to see more creative endeavors in that direction especially on the bandstand.
to scot:

you said: "right now the world is worried about war, suicide bombers, money woes, etc etc... but once things settle down there will be more energy to spare for leisure activities, especially challenging leisure activities such as jazz."

i totally agree with you. do you think that 70 or 80 years ago, jazz was the most popular music because the world was not so worried? if so, don't you think we should try to bring back to life that old spirit? my answer to both questions is "yes"...

yes, i'm sooo nostalgic :(
i've been thinking a lot about this topic recently and have concluded that if we want the jazz audience to grow, it's up to all of us, have a look at the article i've written on the subject today.


i'd be interested in your thoughts...
100% agree with you barry.
great article barry.  you are a wise man and a gifted writer.  

i wonder if we should consider dropping the word jazz from our musical objectives, at least as far as a state of mind is concerned.  perhaps pre-categorizing our expectations traps us into little boxes that impede the natural creative flow and curiosity that is the very core of jazz, or any other creative endeavor...hmmm
...then there's the money....i think that's what really screws it up for us:)
i remember my gigs with classic rock bands playing the same things over and over ,i had to help myself with a few pints to get through the night ,with jazz no need the booze up to enjoy playing ,creating on the spot everytime different content ,the audiences has srunk but
what to hell  
and no need to tell performer jokes also is a blessing
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