Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The recession. Should jazz be worried?

It's strange that, over recent months, I have moved from being a big pessimist to a degree of optimism for jazz. I think - and hope - that jazz is well placed to weather the stormy recession clouds and storms. The Financial Times should be regarded as being printed on blood, and not pink, coloured paper!
Nevertheless, at the Vortex it's possibly the best December since the club reopened in Dalston, and the programme for 2009 looks really promising. My little shop is beginning to work out, as I now have an array of music available, both directly related to the club and also by many others, e.g. from elsewhere in Europe. Of course, that only happens because my requirements, financially, are relatively modest. I still haven't, though, got enough to justify paying someone when I'm not around! (So, when I was in Amsterdam at the Dutch Jazz Meeting at the weekend, I probably missed sales at the Acoustic Ladyland gig etc.)
Jazz has quality and value to it. It may seem trivial at a time of boom where there are quick bucks to be made elsewhere. But during the recession, it has a longevity that people will look towards.
There are problems, of course. The bankruptcy of distributor Pinnacle and Brecon Jazz Festival, the problems of Zavvi (via EUK), show that we are not immune. A lot of jazz musicians will suffer in terms of a few hundred pounds here and even perhaps a few thousand. This is concerning. But their commitment and flexibility will hopefully see many of them through.
Larger events, reliant on subsidy and grant, are also vulnerable. I have heard some worrying stories about private sponsors of festivals, as well as seeing how foundations and companies are cutting back. Not because of their respect of liking of the music. Just because of the exigencies that the recession brings.
The strength of the music is its ability to be flexible and look for the opportunities. Those who grew in the hope that the boom years would help out and continue are likely to be those who suffer most and have to adapt most.
I keep my fingers crossed.

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