WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WHO LIKE JAZZ?
Information on the market for jazz ranges in the UK from sparse to non-existent. There are a couple of older studies from very reliable data sources, and a couple of little studies, less reliable, one of them by us and previously unpublished. We are going to have to make the assumption that the broad trends have not altered much in the last few years. None of this would be acceptable to a business marketing chief, but if we take it as straw evidence then it is probably safe enough.
According to a very reliable market research company, RSGB, about 13% of the population listen to orchestral music of some kind regularly. The success of Classical fm radio would attest to this, but it still remains a minority when compared to popular music stations. About 7% listen to jazz regularly. Jazz fm is a very successful radio station – it reaches the second highest jazz radio audience in the world. But, and it is a big But, when it used to devote itself to recognised jazz music it nearly expired from malnutrition. It has achieved its success since it broadened its daytime appeal to include soul, blues, funk and music with a broader appeal than jazz. Jazz is nearly twice as popular as Opera, which has a 4% regular listener base.
The following table from a 1997/8 study which is supported by other evidence shows that jazz has slightly more appeal amongst men, and amongst higher social groups. The data for young people probably reflects the fact that they go out to events of all kinds far more than older people. This is supported by a small study by Jazz Services which also noted that about a third of the audience are students, and about 40% are professionally qualified.
% of population % ever attending a jazz event
Under 35 37 45
35-54 30 34
55+ 33 31
Male 49 57
Female 51 43
ABC1 40 62
C2DE 60 38
More people listen to jazz than would ever go out to a jazz event – the same would be true of all music probably. TGI figures for the year 1997/98 show the audience for jazz who attended live jazz events at least once a year to be 5.8% of the sample, with 0.6% attending at least once every 3 months. The audience for jazz at live events in the United Kingdom extrapolated from the 1997/98 TGI figures is 3.3 million adults, of which 1.49 million are ABC social groupings. An earlier separate study into the leisure market (RSL leisure monitor) confirms that there are 4-5 times as many people again with a definable interest in jazz compared to those who go to an outside jazz event. The RSGB study indicates that as many people watch jazz on television or listen on the radio as actually attend an event.
Contrary to received wisdom amongst older jazz aficionados, the audience for jazz is not dying out. Perhaps we ancestor worshippers who talk breathlessly about the likes of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk (plus a cast of thousands) are being replaced by people who just like the music without the hang up of devotion to its pioneers.
When tribute concerts are run, such as the recent series on Bill Evans by Terry Seabrook, the audience numbers are high but older – the same is true so that when the older giants of the music play, such as Dave Brubeck, their concerts are often sell-outs but the audience age profile is higher.
A reputable study by MORI published in 1996 which asked what types of music people enjoyed listening to showed jazz with 21% following, well behind chart pop (58%), easy listening (38%), rock and roll (36%), and a bit behind classical music (35%) , but at about the same level as reggae/indie/rock/folk/and country. It showed the usual male and upper social class bias.
What is interesting in this study is the fact that a very high proportion of those people saying they like jazz also like classical music (56%).
Jazz was only popular with the masses when it was linked with dancing. Most of
the people attending the old jazz clubs danced (jived) as well. Jazz lost its dancers to rock and roll. To-day the chances are that it has a small but discerning audience, but the audience is larger than people think. It is just under promoted, that’s all.
Proportion taking instruction for a musical instrument adults 4% children 22%
The audience for jazz
The audience for jazz is not dying out. But it has changed a lot.
Perhaps we ancestor worshippers who talk breathlessly about the likes of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk (plus a cast of thousands) are being replaced by people who just like the music. Surprising and consistent data shows that jazz enthusiasts are very highly represented amongst classical music lovers.
When tribute concerts are run, such as the recent series on Miles Davis by Terry Seabrook, the audience numbers are high but older . The same is true when the older giants of the music play/. Their concerts are often sell-outs but the audience age profile is higher.
Information on the market for jazz ranges in the UK from sparse to non-existent but there is some for those who look. There are a couple of older studies from very reliable data sources, and a couple of little studies, less reliable, one of them by us and previously unpublished
Workshops: the players have their say In one small study, those who say they are “Keen” or “Very Keen” on jazz were asked if they could play an instrument. 89% said they could (most learnt their instrument at school) 26% of those who can play say they still pick it up now-from time to time. The hard core of jazz followers is active musically in some way. 80% of the players, however, have never attended a workshop. This is a sample of what the workshop participants said,
Advantages of attending a workshop
Chance to learn 52%
Chance to play 11%
Both equally 37%