Now's The Time
“ Not surprisingly, they're still fighting it, hoping the lawsuits and publicity surrounding the illegality of filesharing will stem the tide. It won't. ”
December 26, 1994 - the first time I got on the web. The Internet has changed my life dramatically, so it's no surprise I recall my maiden voyage.
The early websites were primitive. No streaming media or MP3 files. No broadband, unless you worked for someone with T-1 line. For most people, it was the world wide wait.
The dot.com era was just beginning, so webmakers weren't interested in making money, yet, just being part of a community, or starting one. Through links I quickly found my community. And that's when I knew that the Net was the perfect vehicle for Jazz.
Both the Net and Jazz are global mediums. Instead of just a few outlets for information, the interconnectivity of the Intenet, and the relative ease of putting up a site, offers seemingly unlimited options. For the first time ever, an interactive medium to bring together like-minded people in a uniquely dynamic way.
I sensed that Jazz had remarkable potential on the Net and thankfully I wasn't alone. Larry Rosen took his GRP money and entered the dot.com fray with the first major Jazz website, Jazz Central Station, which I had a hand in creating. The buzz that JCS generated served as the catalyst for a wave of new sites, and the first recognition of the power of the Net from the Jazz community.
The evolution of this medium in the past decade is nothing short of astounding. Interestingly, my formula for a good website still applies, no matter what the technology: interesting content, easily accessible, and frequently updated.
What about the infinite possibilities for Jazz on the web, have they been realized?
There's no shortage of information based Jazz websites, large and small, and if you're willing to search, between streaming radio stations and web-only radio, there are scores of listening posts. On Amazon, you can purchase any CD currently in print, and through Ebay, used LPs, etc. Independent labels and artists also have a presence on their own sites and on CD Baby, where anyone can have their music featured.
Great, but what about using the Internet to build a new audience for this music? Sadly, the Jazz industry has yet to truly seize the opportunity at hand. Everybody's got a website now, it's mandatory, but how effective are these sites?
Before the Net, a handful of record labels, broadcasters, publishers and promoters controlled the access to information, and the sale of the music. Then the web exploded and shortly thereafter, MP3 files and filesharing arrived. Whatever the legal implications, literally overnight, there was proof that tens of millions of listeners would, and could, if given the opportunity, access music digitally. The concept of sharing music had existed through all the listening technologies of last century, but with the Net, it was global and simultaneous. And, very scary for the folks who were so deeply invested in the existing order.
Not surprisingly, they're still fighting it, hoping the lawsuits and publicity surrounding the illegality of filesharing will stem the tide. It won't. There's no way to control what happens on the Net except to turn it off, and that's not going to happen. They shut down Napster and the ink on the court order wasn't dry before four other services appeared to replace it.
Instead, we unite, as a community, to develop strategies for new ways to market and distribute Jazz digitally. The audience exists, I-Tunes has demonstrated that, successfully commercializing filesharing. For once, let's cast ego aside and work together to introduce millions of people on the planet to this music. They're ready for it. Now's the time.