#jazzlives Twitter Campaign

by Jason on August 29, 2009 · 4 comments

in Gigs, Marketing/Promotion, Thoughts

Jazz writer Howard Mandel has started a campaign on Twitter to help dispel the myth that jazz is dying. Prompted by Terry Teachout’s Wall Street Journal article “Can Jazz Be Saved” that I wrote about here, Mandel decided to mobilize the jazz twitterati to see just how many people are actually going to see live jazz. Says Mandel:

[…] but rather than more stories, let’s establish some new numbers. How many tweets including the hashmark #jazzlives can we accumulate over the next couple of weeks? What if we take this campaign to Facebook and other social networking sites, too? The numbers won’t be statistically valid, but will provide a new metric for references’ sake. Could we reach the 500,000 typically applied to attendees at Woodstock?

I hereby urge jazz bloggers and websites and jazz fests and venues to promote the idea that jazz listeners tweet including: #jazzlives, who was playing and where. Open a Twitter account if you don’t already have one — it’s free and this is NOT a Twitter promotion, it just happens to work for these kinds of campaigns. Including #jazzlives will allow the tweets to be searchable at Twitter and to be scrolled on a widget that can be embedded into websites and blogs (email tweetjazzlives@gmail.com for the widget code — you can see how it looks at www.HowardMandel.com). No further commitment, nothing to buy.

If you don’t already have a Twitter account click here to start one for free. Then every time you go see live jazz send a tweet about it using the hashtag #jazzlives. Hashtags like “#jazzlives” are a way of marking keywords or categories in Twitter messages (or “Tweets”) so that they show up in searches. Twitter is simple to set up and use, and you don’t need one of those fancy-schmancy smartphones to send Tweets — if your phone can send text messages, then you can use it to send Tweets. You can also post Tweets from the Twitter website once you get back from the gig.

If you’d like to put the #jazzlives widget on your site like I have at the top of this post you can visit Darcy James Argue’s blog for the code.

And please DO NOT use #jazzlives to promote your gigs recordings, etc. This is not a personal promotion campaign, but rather a grass-roots collective campaign to further the cause and show just how much live jazz is happened and who’s going to see it.

For more debate on the Teachout article, you can listen to a conversation between Teachout and pianist Vijay Iyer that took place the other day on WNYC’s “Soundcheck”, complete with a phone call from yours truly.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Twitter: arodjazz
August 29, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Man, Teachout smacked you down on your call-in!

I disagree with his statistics-are-sacred argument — Vijay Iyer’s citation of 583.com was a great comeback.

Twitter: arodjazz
August 29, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Correction: I meant 538.com, which is actually http://www.fivethirtyeight.com — Nate Silver’s great political polling and commentary blog.

Nick Francis August 30, 2009 at 10:35 am

Nice widget there Jason. Hopefully the fans will dominate the discussion more than the promoters will.

Although I don’t think jazz is dead or “needs saving”, I have to agree with much of Teachout’s suggestions; the music has indeed lost it’s connection with mainstream American culture, and has isolated itself into a subcultural mix of academia and a handful of local scenes.

If you’re on the “inside” of this world, then of course you’ll find Teachout’s assertions quite erroneous. But you also become immune to seeing just how much larger the “outside” has become.

For example…music blogging. One of my favorite ways to sample new music is by getting an RSS feed from The Hype Machine (an MP3 blog aggregator) and shooting it into my Google Reader. Each day, I get close to a 1000 songs to listen to…and you know what? It’s very rare to stumble upon any jazz (new or old) being posted, whatsoever.

Check out music sites like last.fm and see what the favorite jazz artists are. Take a look at amazon’s top 50 selling jazz CDs. Take out the singers and take out Miles Davis and what do you have left?

The easy thing is to blame “the stupid American culture” and bemoan the fact that people just don’t get it. But that attitude will isolate you even further.

I hope that the young players out there will take it upon themselves, once they’ve acquired the skills, to defiantly turn away from their “teachers” and make an effort to get down with their peers, and take it to the streets if you will.

Look forward to hearing your disc. Nick

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