All About Jazz: The Innovation Game

All About Jazz: The Innovation Game
Michael Ricci BY

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Jazz lives in a difficult space between its artistic possibilities and the demands of the marketplace. That's a tough balance to achieve.
—Fernando Gonzalez, Miami Herald
2015 marked All About Jazz's 20th year online. From the humble beginnings as a simple link site to the largest database in jazz media, AAJ has continually improved over the years and through some inspired stretches, has made significant advancements for jazz online. For me personally, operating All About Jazz since its inception has been a rewarding and life changing experience. And though it hasn't been without its dramatic moments, we have always navigated through the rough patches and improved in the end.

Our past, our future

AAJ started years before the commercial web and I have had the opportunity to organically realize a vision that has come together before your very eyes: a website whose sole purpose is to promote jazz music (and jazz musicians) to a global community. We've only scratched the surface of its potential to do good and I'm particularly charged about 2016.

As the steward of a volunteer organization, I've had the pleasure of collaborating with some creative, kindhearted, bright, funny, and dear friends over the years. Their years of dedication have collectively built a better website and have helped shape our editorial voice. We work well under a large umbrella but our primary focus is on modern jazz and promoting today's working musicians. And as AAJ has evolved into five distinct websites (articles, news, downloads, photos, and musicians) and Jazz Near You (events), maintaining a seamless connection between each has been key. Central to all this is our new universal search feature which makes finding content fast and simple.

I still start my day thinking of ways to improve AAJ and I'm continually reinvigorated by advancements in technology. Remaining current on trends and technologies have ultimately made the website more useful for our musician users and a better experience for our readers.

Hello, decade #3!

In many respects 20 years feels like it flew by until I pay a visit to the Internet Archives and view AAJ from the '90s or when I reflect back on 2003 when a hacker scrambled our hard drive and nearly vaporized us from the Internet. Through it all, I've learned more about jazz, technology, and human nature than I could have ever imagined and, I'm constantly exposed to new and vibrant jazz that validates my belief that I'm hearing the very best music made.

All About Jazz's staying power has been a truly remarkable achievement considering the challenges (modest staff, even more modest budget) we've faced over the years. But 2016 should prove to be the year when we transition from a bootstrapped operation to something that's sustainable for years to come. And a sustainable AAJ is great for jazz.

What's next

Moving forward we'll focus on building our community, expanding our content, improving Jazz Near You, and solidifying out technical foundation. We'll also reimagine our data in ways that make our website more interactive, insightful and fun.

Over the years, jazz websites, blogs and forums have come and gone yet we continue to persevere and improve. The old saying, "innovate or die" is particularly true when it comes to the ever-changing landscape of the internet and innovation has been at the center of our business since 1995. With your help, we look forward to improving on a good thing for many years to come.

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