Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jazz is vibrant? - help prove it, Twitter style

You say you don't buy the tired old saw "jazz is dead"? It's time to show it's not so, and today's social networking craze is the way to help. Yes folks, it's Twitter time. #jazzlives

Thre's a movement afoot to dispel the impression, which received substantial mileage through Terry Teachout's recent Wall Street Journal piece, that the jazz audience is fading. It was published in early August - the same weekend, in fact as George Wein's CareFusion Jazz Festival 55 in Newport where there were lots of enthusiastic, young people packing all three stages.

Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association, and others are encouraging the use of Twitter to show that lots of people are listening to live jazz - in person at events or live on the radio.

The instructions are simple, says Mandel. Here's what he is suggesting - and why.

Is the audience for jazz aging and diminishing, as Terry Teachout wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently? I don't believe it and don't think you buy it completely either, despite the NEA's 2008 survey data. I think that survey overlooked a significant segment of the vital audience for live jazz today, and propose a small social networking experiment, asking tech savvy listeners to tweet #jazzlives, who & where, in 140 characters.

Over the next couple weeks there are myriad big jazz events, starting in NYC the Charlie Parker Jazz Fest this Saturday and Sunday), continuing to the Labor Day weekend fests at Tanglewood, Chicago, Detroit, Aspen, Los Angeles, Vail, Philly, Chapel Hill, etc., then on through Monterey and the Beantown (Boston) fests (we'll keep the campaign going, as long as it works).

The music needn't be heard at a fest, of course -- it can be at a stand-along concert, a gig, live-jazz-broadcast on radio or online, in the subway or street, at a party, whatever.

If you Tweet, use hashtag #jazzlives. If you have a Twitter account, please help kick things off TODAY with a tweet that includes #jazzlives, who you heard most recently and where (venue and/or locale). That way, you (or anyone) will be able to track these tweets with a Twitter search and on TweetDeck and similar services.

We have created a special "widget" for blogs and websites that will show all #jazzlives tweets in real tim e- which is sort of the fun of it for those who like these things, and will collate all the tweets so we can count them, hopefully to prove how many of us there are.

MOST BRIEFLY, here's all anyone has to do to participate:
1) Write in a Tweet WHO you heard and WHERE (venue, locale, whatever fits)
2) MOST IMPORTANT: include hashmark #jazzlives.
EXAMPLE: I heard Vanguard Orch at Tanglewood, super! #jazzlives
EXAMPLE: I heard Hank Jones, solo at Detroit Int JF, mighty fine #jazzlives

Include links to your blog or website in your Tweet if you like, like this -
EXAMPLE: I heard Eubanks 5 be great at Blue Note NYC, full revu at #jazzlives

That's it. These initial tweets will seed the project by getting the #jazzlives out there and giving us some initial content for our widget. We hope this will build to a noticeable surge. Could we get as many tweets and postings as there were people at Woodstock?

Please note: Tweets with #jazzlives are NOT intended to publicize upcoming events or for comments on recordings you're listening to, but rather for reports on LIVE jazz you've actually heard recently. If you heard it live over the radio, that counts!

Our initiative's main aim is just to see how we can use new features of social networking to give all styles of jazz -- defined however you want -- a higher profile by showing how many of us listeners to live jazz there are.

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