Sunday, June 14, 2009

More thoughts on the current state of jazz media

All companies and nonprofits great and small are reassessing their viability and putting creativity to the test as they weather the effects of the current recession.Some make it, some don't and some seize the opportunity to reinvent themselves.

The jazz world clearly is not immune, though not all of the forces are purely economic. But the economy always seems to inject its ugly side at the worst possible time: just look at the Festival Network LLC's apparent demise and its impact on festivals that have gone away, vendors who haven't been paid from work last year, and the spin-off effect on JazzTimes, which likely budgeted a significant chunk of its 2009 income from the continued publication of JVC Jazz Festival program supplements in three issues. No festivals, no lucrative advertising supplements. And now JazzTimes has suspended publication while awaiting a possible sale and refocus.

But it is not alone in its woes.

The Toronto-based, 51-year-old Canadian jazz magazine Coda suspended its bimonthly publication in January to "adjust its operations." This month it produced its "Quintessential Canadian Jazz Festival Guide" and on the magazine's Web site, Publisher Mark Barnes said June 1 that publication of the next issue of Coda will resume shortly and all financial obligations will be honored "in due course."

Any day now, JAZZIZ magazine expects to issue its "summer" edition in a move from 10 print issues a year to quarterly publication. It plans to supplement those four print issues with a new subscribers-only Web site that will have daily news, reviews and digital online-only "filler" mini-JAZZIZ issues to be posted every month.

Yes, the soured economy is at work in all of these circumstances, but so is the opportunity to reinvent how one does business. As print publication becomes more challenging, there is greater emphasis on electronic options.

Web sites and blogs, for that matter, are growing in importance for communicators and consumers, as are the social networking sites. There aren't many musicians who don't have a presence on My Space Music or FaceBook in addition to maintaining their own individual Web sites.

The communications sphere has change rapidly - and continues to do so. Pain and innovation are certain elements as we move forward. Buckle your seat belts, as it certainly will be quite a ride to a destination yet uncertain.

In the interest of full disclosure: I have done freelance work at various times, and in some cases still do, for JAZZIZ, JazzTimes and in the more distant past, Downbeat. I wish each of them well as they take on the market-force challenges they face with creativity, enthusiasm and, hopefully, success.

No comments:

Post a Comment