Sunday, May 3, 2009

Is This Thing On?

One of Kansas City's most compelling jazz musicians handed me a show flyer as I exited The Pistol last week.

It's great that the guy is out there grinding and interacting with his target audience.

But... The guy doesn't have a proper web site or MySpace account. He doesn't employ Twitter or, to my knowledge, maintain an email list. He lacks a YouTube channel. Why wouldn't every musician use today's most effective- and inexpensive- means of communication?

Another artist listed on the handbill has publicly complained about the reluctance of music venues to book free jazz acts. I'm sympathetic. I also recognize that it's the obligation of musicians to create, foster and develop their audiences.

Look at The Bad Plus. While I'm a fan, I recognize that their relative success has a lot to do with their willingness to be relentless self-promoters.

One more thing- what about my jazz calendar? Hey, I know it's ugly. But sadly, it's the only online directory dedicated to Kansas City jazz. Use it.

It's 2009. Just being a genius is no longer enough.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)


Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct.

Being an artist is also not a free pass to a have 0 business skills or to not start a Roth IRA. Nor is it a free pass to look unkempt and have bad personal hygiene.

That is just plain irresponsible and a lack of self respect.

punkyjunk said...

...and it's completely amazing how the PR practices of musicians (or lack thereof) continue to perpetuate themselves despite how often the subject comes up. it's sink or swim and so many aren't even taking lesssons. there's a TON of great examples out there...take notes!

Anonymous said...

Art Blakey used to say, "They see you before they hear you."

So many of these "artists" are broke but they still have money to smoke and to "drink up" their club pay in the form of running a drink tab.

Instead of the CODA fund paying for funerals, perhaps a better way to spend the money is to educate musicians on how to make ends meet, how to market, how to build an audience, the importance of starting on time, looking and smelling clean.

punkyjunk said...

anon, you're absolutely right - and CODA is partially there. they did a day-long "health & financial fitness" fair back in October '08 to help artists. that would take care of your suggestion on "making ends meet" and "looking and smelling clean," although most of the jazz musicians i've met are put together just fine. as for marketing & building audiences, there have been some programs presented for artists on those subjects.

the man behind PS can probably help out here too. however, only a small amount of musicians even showed up for these events.

insert cliche here...

"we can show them the door, but they have to walk through it."

"you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink."

or in ben harper's words, "you can put a man through school, but you cannot make him think."

Harper said...

This is a good discussion. But what's with that doleful photo of the abandoned building? Is it meant to illustrate the decay of an art form whose practitioners are unwilling or unable to evolve with the times? Or is it the mechanic's shed on the east side in which the author of this blog was born, its image drawn upon any time said author needs to convey a deep inner sense of abandonment?

Nice calendar -- not ugly at all. I'll get good use of it. Great People's Lib review, too, on Rockville.

Don't cry, Plastic Sax.

Happy In Bag said...

A friend regularly expresses disappointment when jazz musicians aren't "dressed the part." I'm not really interested in the way musicians look or smell.

What bugs me is when great artists are unwilling or unable to do what's necessary to make a living.

Harper- Yes.