[Dixielandjazz] What Turns The Younger Audiences On?

Bill Gunter jazzboard at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 3 17:57:56 PST 2006

Hi boys and girls,

Mindful of the problems getting OKOM out to the younger folks I did a little 
thinking (always a bad thing) and wrote the following story for publication 
in the American Rag. I'm not sure if it will make it into the next edition 
but I anticipate it will be published soon.

Here is the text of the story (you're getting it before subscribers to the 
Rag get it):

----> begin story

It Ain’t Round No More - It’s Rectangular!
CD’s Are Dead

Humorist Dave Barry, in his book, Money Secrets, writes about how us older 
type people may seem a bit confused over the revolution in information in 
the digital age.

"We [older folks] are having a lot of trouble with technology these days, 
particularly if the technlology is “digital.” Oh, we know that digital is 
good. Everybody tells us this. We know that sooner or later every electrical 
thing we own, including our toaster, will be digital. We just don’t get how 
digital works."

	Music is a form of “information” and since the digital computers, which 
evolve in complexity on a daily basis, have grown into increasingly huge and 
complex systems of storing and distributing “information” it is therefore no 
surprise to find out that music has been swept up into this burgeoning 
enterprise and has also become DIGITAL!
	“Round Music” is that music we’re all familiar with. Our grandparents 
listened to the first recordings on round cylinders which evolved into round 
disks which rotated at 78 RPM which evolved into round disks which rotated 
at 33 1/3 RPM which evolved into smaller disks with a bigger hole in the 
middle which revolved at 45 RPM which evolved into round reels of tape which 
unwound at 7 IPS (inches per second) which evolved into audio cassettes with 
miniature round reels inside. This music was not DIGITAL – it was ANALOG 
(big difference here but I won’t go into a technical explanation)!
	Then along came the CD which was round and which, like the phonograph 
record, you stuck into or onto some sort of device which transferred the 
information on the disc into sound waves in the air which would slap up 
against our ear drums and cause us to experience the thrill of hearing 
music. But, the CD is a bit odd in the sense that although it is round and 
has a hole in the middle (like a phonograph record), the information 
contained on it is no longer “analog.” It has become “digital” which 
basically means that everything on that CD disc is in numeric form 
(basically 1's and 0's).
	Where is all of this leading? What’s the big deal? The big deal is that 
your grandchildren know nothing about LPs, 78s, 45s, and audio cassettes 
(and, increasingly, even CDs)! They listen to their music on Ipods! All of 
those who know what Ipods are raise your hands . . . ahah! I thought so.
	An Ipod is a music player but it’s not round – it’s rectangular and it’s 
about half the size of a standard CD Jewel Case. But where the Jewel Case 
only holds one CD which has maybe 15 tunes on it, the Ipod doesn’t hold any 
disks or gizmos at all but it does hold up to twenty thousand songs (!) in 
the form of something known as an “MP3" file, all easily accessible and 
playable through headphones or (with an extra bit of hardware) on your 
stereo system!
	THAT’S WHERE MUSIC IS TODAY!! That’s where the youngsters are going to get 
their musical appetites satisfied. To the younger generation CDs are DEAD! 
Our grandchildren don’t listen to them! I’ll repeat that . . . THE 
	We spend much time talking about getting youth involved in our music. We 
have jazz club scholarships and jazz camps. Trad jazz festivals often will 
book a local high school jazz band to play (and it’s often “bebop” as 
opposed to our kind of music). But I’m sorry to report that this is not 
actually reaching out to youth.
	Go to your computer, log on to the internet and do a “Google search” for 
downloadable MP3 music. You’ll find lots of companies that offer literally 
MILLIONS of songs for you to download for just pennies per song. Do you 
recognize any of these popular recording artists (all featured on most of 
these web sites): Dem Hoodstarz, Thug Karma, Ludacris, D J Signify, Seven 
Chakraz? That’s what I thought. But your grandchildren know them well.
	On the other hand, ask your grandchildren if they recognize these names: 
Turk Murphy, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Blue Street, Titan Hot 7 and see 
how many hands go up. May I predict “None.”
	Friends, we’re not reaching out to our young people. Our current flock of 
jazz bands are making CDs while the youngsters are listening to MP3s on 
their Ipods. Does anyone see any sort of disconnect here? Are any of our 
favorite jazz bands recording CDs making sure that the songs are also 
available in the MP3 format? Those folks recording our favorite jazz bands 
such as Bay Records, Puddingstone and others create MP3 files for the songs 
they put on CDs but you’ll search forever before you’ll find them on a music 
website where one can download songs.
	People who love OKOM (Our Kind Of Music) must find a more effective way to 
get MP3 files into the hands of youngsters and their Ipods or in a very 
short time OKOM will not be just dead - it will be dead and gone! (Clue – 
look to the current crop of young “swing dancers” to help act as a force to 
get this MP3 technology to give them some danceable music.)

----> end of story

In a cover letter to Don Jones (publisher of the American Rag) which 
accompanied the story I wrote:

-----> start letter

The story is about the music that young people listen to today and
the source of that music. It points out that those of us who love and play
OKOM (Our Kind Of Music) are NOT getting our music to youth. We are using
the wrong media.

Until contemporary trad jazz bands begin placing their music on internet
sites which download MP3 files into youngsters Ipods and actively marketing
same our music will die. Not slowly, but in an increasing spiral as the
older forms of music (CDs, etc) fade into obscurity.

CDs are (for all practical marketing purposes in the music industry) DEAD!  
Perhaps you have read something about the demise of Tower Records (an 
international company) in the last month or two.  The reason it died is 
because they never made the crossover into downloadable digital music.  They 
could have been a GIANT in contemporary music business but they thought that 
CDs were becoming more and more popular - sadly, the opposite was true and 
now Tower is history.

Tough noogies!

Respectfully submitted,

Bill "I calls 'em the way I sees 'em" Gunter
jazzboard at hotmail.com

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