Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Want To Be Alone!


I've repeatedly chided Kansas City's jazz musicians for failing to adequately promote their careers. Only a few take advantage of all of the free promotional tools available. The absence of a handful of high-profile local artists on MySpace has been one of my particularly irksome pet peeves.

I decided to test my theory on Saturday, November 15. I checked that day's play statistics for approximately 200 artists between 5-6 p.m. The results were incredibly discouraging.

Only 13 Kansas City jazz artists had over ten play counts for the day. And I'm using a very liberal definition of both "Kansas City" and "jazz."

(Disclaimer: It's possible that I overlooked two or three artists while compiling this data.)

Kansas City jazz artists with 10-50 plays:
Chris Burnett- 18
Grand Marquis- 17
Jake Blanton- 13
D.J. Sweeney- 12
Mark Lowrey- 11
Brandon Draper- 10

Kansas City jazz artists with 50-100 plays:
Karrin Allyson- 76
Miles Bonny- 54

Kansas City jazz artists with over 100 plays:
Pat Metheny: 907
Krystle Warren- 481
Norman Brown- 275
Oleta Adams- 267
Eldar: 126

How do those numbers compare to those of top jazz stars?

National jazz artists:
Norah Jones: 7,723
Diana Krall- 1,981
Herbie Hancock- 1,488
Esperanza Spaulding: 1,119
Chris Botti: 1,019
Madeleine Peyroux- 645
Dave Brubeck- 637
Kirk Whalum- 323
Aaron Parks- 307
Fourplay- 295
Joshua Redman- 156
Roy Hargrove- 137
Erin Bode- 57
Branford Marsalis- 31
Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra- 25

I wondered if MySpace is just a forum for kids. With that in mind, I checked the play counts for artists appealing to an older demographic.

National artists with older audiences:
Michael Buble- 29,750
Sheryl Crow- 10,164
Chicago- 5,354
Barry Manilow- 3,955
Neil Diamond- 3,421
Michael Bolton- 2,441
Tony Bennett- 1,070
Rod Stewart- 394

I wondered if all of Kansas City's musicians- regardless of genre- suffered from a lack of interest. I took a random sampling.

Kansas City rock, hip hop and bluegrass artists:
Tech N9ne- 68,315
David Cook- 45,316
Jannelle Monae- 6,193
Get Up Kids- 3,740
Mac Lethal- 1,973
The American Life- 1,684
Vedera- 1,591
Skatterman & Snug Brim- 697
Rich the Factor- 564
Ssion- 359
Trampled Under Foot- 208
Beautiful Bodies- 183
D Will- 96
Shooting Star- 78
The Architects- 75
Reach -75
Event- 60
The Wilders- 49
Steddy P- 41
The Rainmakers- 11

MySpace play counts are probably slightly lower on weekends, but that didn't prevent a few of the music industry's top stars from racking up impressive numbers.

National superstars:
Beyonce- 1,413,857
T.I.- 1,235,708
Lil Wayne- 858,920
Akon- 781,525
Taylor Swift- 523,397
Britney Spears- 485,920
Katy Perry- 399,768
Kid Rock- 74,068
Metallica- 32,964

What conclusions can be drawn from this exercise? Sadly, it's that jazz is just not that popular. Kansas City jazz is even more marginalized.

And I admit it- I was wrong. Based on the results of this study, it's understandable why some Kansas City jazz artists make so little effort. It must seem like no one's listening.

So why do I dedicate a couple hours a week to Plastic Sax? Well, I love the music. I also think it's important. Kansas City's jazz scene deserves lively and objective documentation.

(Original image by Plastic Sax. I'm a popular guy.)


Anonymous said...

i think you'll see the gap between these numbers/genres continue to widen as time goes on. what kansas city, or even america, suffers from, is the inability to embrace its own culture and art - on a mass scale.

like you referenced over at therestandstheglass, europeans embrace jazz more than americans. why else would a majority of the great artists, both past and present, flock to europe? there's gigs - well paying gigs - there's an audience who listens, and there's more opportunities for creative freedom.

sigh. that's sad stuff. what a shame.

punkyjunk said...

KC needs one of these:


Happy In Bag said...

That sure would be great, Zender.

I wonder what the policy on "tapers" is among most Kansas City musicians.

I also wonder how many have ever been asked that question.

Maybe I'll do some digging here: