Jazz Goes Viral


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… and who hasn’t caught the YouTube epidemic yet? We have all spent hours upon hours, searching for videos by our favourite performers, both past and present. YouTube has become a fantastic outlet for bands to reach unprecedented numbers of new fans.

With hand-held camcorders and videophones becoming increasingly common and cheap, what is “YouTube worthy” has become almost anything. For the creative, artistic mind, this opens up many great possibilities. It may seem trite to refer back to indie-rockers, OK Go’s, “Here It Goes Again”, to see the budget-quality, creative, DIY mind at its best. Currently the video sits at 9 million hits!

Now I’m not saying every jazz artist should wear really tight and bright clothing and do orchestrated dances on treadmills to gain new fans. I am however saying that we should embrace new media as a chance to gain exposure and introduce our music to those fans, whom for the meantime, only live online.

In pop and rock music, creative outlets have sprung up across the board over the past few years, utilizing the new tools at their disposal. Check out the Black Cab Sessions and Take-Away Shows. Featuring some of the world’s most renown artists, these unique, boutique videos work to bridge the gap between audience and artist, succeeding to almost transport the listener into the personal, intimate space in which these concerts take place. The experience is truly unlike anything else, and allows for a closer connection to the artist.

But videos can take so many different shapes and formats. A few I have come across quite often include:
1. Album promotion (music video – video set to pre-recorded music, the making-of – a behind the scenes look at the album recording process)
2. Tour blogs (a great way to keep fans back home thinking about you while you’re on the road)
3. Live concert (why not set up a camera and an H2 and see what happens)
4. Just for plain old fun (because life and jazz shouldn’t always be so serious)

Here are a few examples I thought worth mentioning:

Duke Ellington certainly new a thing or two about marketing. 1942 was the year that gave birth to the viral jazz video. What a hilarious and incredible look into one of jazz music’s greatest bands and musical leaders.

A great behind the scene’s look at Brad Mehldau’s new album, ‘Highway Rider.’

Barry Romberg’s Random Access – Live at The Rex

Drunken apartment jam session with Seamus Blake and Kurt Rosenwinkel

Please stay away from technical videos displaying just one player’s chops, or a shot of someone’s hands as they play a piano solo. YouTube is a place for you to reach new fans, not to stroke your own ego. If it’s just a new tune you want your fans to hear, have an mp3 up for download. Viral videos aren’t meant to be audition tapes. Treat the video as a work of art meant to accompany and add to your music.

Viral videos all have one thing in common – creativity. So put those creative minds and $100 handy cams to work!

The Purple Cabbage
February 2011

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About The Purple Cabbage

A Toronto Jazz and creative music blog featuring interviews, new releases, culture, shows, and all things Toronto Jazz.
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