[Dixielandjazz] Fairness and savvy marketers

Nancy Giffin nancyink at ulink.net
Fri Dec 19 18:11:22 PST 2003

Dear Harold and list mates,

Steve was merely reporting on how a highly-profitable festival would answer
Kurt's long list of well-thought-out questions. Hmmm... Looks like we're now
back to the "purist" thread; round and round we go-o-o-o-o-o-o!

Is this really a matter of fairness/open-mindedness, or is it a matter of
logic and common sense? On planet Earth, when a living thing is faced with
survival, it often becomes necessary to make changes and adjustments.
Preferences become luxuries, and as much as we hate to see them go, it's
survival that counts. A mountain lion prefers deer, but when prey is scarce,
it settles for whatever small critter it can find.

I have all the respect in the world for jazz purists -- even empathy -- but
outside of this list, they are a minority that exists at an extreme end of
the bell curve; the majority of people (potential audience) lies in the
middle. Would I want a purist as an invaluable consultant when planning a
festival? Yes, yes, absolutely yes. But I'm sorry to say that a large group
of them running a festival might likely run the festival to death!!! "Oh the
times, they are a changin'." Fact: People have Free Will, and you can't
force your likes upon them; however, a very good promoter can cleverly tell
them what it is they really want, and they will indeed want it!

As Steve ALWAYS says, "Play where the kids are," and expose them to the
music on their own turf. Don't expect them to want to go where their gramma
goes for fun. As for a festival, consider compromising (gasp! Please excuse
my language), and bringing in a few bands and activities that attract the
kids to the festival, where they THEN can ALSO hear Other Kinds Of Music,
like trad jazz. Let the festival content GRADUALLY EVOLVE to meet it's own
vital needs. If there is NO evolution -- no source of sustenance, no shelter
from the elements, no protection from predators -- there is no potential for
survival, only for great peril.

When I helped launch a chamber orchestra in Sacramento, the conductor was a
genius and a real purist for classical music. He was capable of the most
inspiring, innovative programming, using phenomenal music that's rarely ever
heard or performed live. But when we'd promote our concerts, only the
purists could see and appreciate what we were doing. Their numbers were not
great enough to get us beyond the second or third season, and the sponsors
were not interested in supporting such obscure music with its tiny audience.
Thankfully, a new executive director convinced our conductor to "mix it up a
bit" in the third year -- throw in some recognizable pieces by Bach, Mozart,
Beethoven. It was agonizing for the conductor to make this change -- to
compromise the quality of his concerts -- but he finally did it, and that's
why the orchestra still exists today (seventh season).

OKOM purists may sit at home and listen to recordings of Louis and other
greats, meanwhile looking down upon Steve and others for being
"compromising," but Steve is out there making music, employing musicians on
a steady basis, and introducing OKOM to new fans and venues every week!!!
While I understand and unite with purists in their appreciation of musical
genius, I also have an appreciation for other kinds of genius, like
marketing genius. I have been on this list for over two years, watching Tom
and Steve give away a literal wealth of marketing information that seems to
fall on (mostly) deaf ears. They are giving away information because they
love this music and want the makers of this great music to succeed and
prosper. They also want younger generations to be introduced to it, and they
take the time to correspond with and encourage the younger players out

I have to wonder who is better for OKOM: the purists who become curmudgeons
and doomsayers? Or the savvy (often vilified) marketers who are willing to
evolve and compromise? Loving something is all well and good -- fabulous,
marvelous, bravo! -- but loving is not enough to keep something alive. My
dad used to tell his daughters, "Love won't pay the rent." Meaning: find a
guy who can pay the bills. Yes, needs must be met, and if it gets harder and
harder to meet those needs, then there must be exploration and innovation,
and adjustments and changes. Necessity is the mother of invention, and it
seems fairly apparent to me that OKOM festivals need to re-invent
themselves. There are numerous festivals that are thriving, and we can take
some good ideas and tailor them to suit our needs. Change need only be
drastic if there has been no slow evolution over time.

Change is the one thing we can always count on. It's hard, I know, and I'm
one of the worst at accepting it in my own life. The one thing that helps is
when people stick together through thick and thin, putting heads together,
brainstorming together, compromising together. It can be as rewarding as it
is challenging. I'm not trying to get myself kicked off this list for saying
these things, I'm just trying to say it's time to wake up and smell the
burning toast. We're all on the same side, folks; really we are. Let's not
forget that! Let's keep offering a wide range of ideas and answers to Kurt's
questions. I'm curious and ready to listen. Please pardon the lengthy post.

Love and hugs,

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