Well, at least jazz enthusiasts around the world don’t have to worry themselves with the frustrations of paperless tickets, ticket bots, and ticket resales. Pretty soon there may not be any jazz left to promote!
In the last Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (2008), an ongoing project of the National Endowment for the Arts, jazz experienced a significant loss of audience. And not only is the appreciation for jazz shrinking, but it’s aging as well. Just the other day my fiance suggested that I market my sax skills to local nursing homes in the area. Well, needless to say that got me to scratching my head…
These are some of the findings that’s making jazz musicians and promoters sit up and take notice:
• In 2008, the year of the last survey, 10.8% of adult Americans attended at least one jazz performance. In 2012, that figure fell to an estimated 7.8%.
• Not only is the audience for jazz shrinking, but it’s growing older—fast. The median age of adults in America who attended a live jazz performance in 2008 was 46. In 1982 it was 29.
• Older people are also much less likely to attend jazz performances today than they were a few years ago. The percentage of Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 who attended a live jazz performance in 2008 was 9.8%. In 2002, it was 13.9%. That’s a 30% drop in attendance.
• Even among college-educated adults, the audience for live jazz has shrunk significantly, to 14.9% in 2008 from 19.4% in 1982.
The most likely explanation for these numbers is that very few new fans have discovered jazz since the 1980s. The old fans continue to follow the music, but teenagers and twenty-somethings have very little interest in jazz.
I know some of you may be a bit skeptical of these numbers considering the timing of the latest survey (2008), but here’s an interesting infographic that’s current from the 2013 Jazz Festival in New Orleans. It paints the same picture - State of the Jazz Listen - revealing that there were more mentions of food than top performing artists. Some of the classic jazz fans here will also take note that many of the featured performers are not playing jazz music.
If that’s not enough, some jazz concert promoters are removing the word “jazz” altogether from their advertisements in efforts to attract a wider audience -
I’m not sure there are really any quick answers to remedy this unfortunate circumstance, but something has to be done. What are you doing to save this amazing art form? I’d love to hear from you…