New speculation on the jazz magazine crisis: Having no summer advertorial supplements for JVC Jazz Festivals (which aren’t happening) may have hugely hurt JT‘s seasonal revenues. How could the loss of three consecutive monthly multi-page inserts, all expenses paid for by the client, not shake a publication’s income stream?
Complete disclosure: I edited the JVC Jazz Festival program books in the 1990s, when they were inserts into Tower Records’ free monthly magazine Pulse!, and for a year when JVC America, responsible for the Japanese owned electronics firms’ promotional investment in George Wein’s international jazz fests, switched the contract to Jazziz. Ah, those were the days!
I had considerable leeway to assign interesting articles to good writers, in the hopes that the program books would a) attract Pulse! readers to consider attending JVC Jazz Fests, and b) give something interesting to read to whoever was at the Fests and picked the programs up. One of my coups was getting my very favorite crime writer Lawrence Block and then-budding novelist Jonathan Lethem to contribute short stories relating to jazz . . .but having nothing specific to do with the JVC fests.
That was then, this is now. A contract for 16, 20 or maybe 24 pages of four-color ads, inserted into issues of a monthly mag and also delivered as stand-alones onsite, is just what every print publisher dreams of. If they’re only dreaming, though, they won’t have the cash to pay writers, photographers, editors, printers, webmasters, ad salesmen or anybody else as they were when dreams were real. Jazz Times won the JVC program book prize what, 10 years ago? They were probably caught short, like everyone else, when Festival Network, which took over from Wein in 2008, buckled by over-reaching (according to FN principal Chris Shields in a New York Times interview) and/or was unsuccessful in securing JVC’s ongoing support (it’s unclear which came first).
Of course, the economic damage done by the loss of the JVC Jazz Festivals doesn’t only have impact on program book publishers. The JVC Jazz Fests took ads in music magazines like Down Beat and Jazziz, too. The JVC Jazz Fests brought tourists to venues across the U.S. and abroad, and attendees to vendors of t-shirts, crafts, food, gas, parking and lodgings. Oh yes, musicians made some $$ off fests, and record companies (remember them?) probably benefitted when players made new fans who went out and bought cds (remember going out to buy cds?).
Well, it’s a new world, folks, and if none of that has survived, something else will take its place. Here are some options:
- The 14th annual Vision Festival (“music dance visual arts words) runs in downtown Manhattan from June 9 through 15;
- the 14th annual Litchfield Jazz Festival runs July 31 – August 2 in Kent, Connecticut;
- there are free city-organized blowouts such as the San Jose Jazz Festival, Aug 7 – 9,
- which is the same weekend as the Newport Jazz Festival, reclaimed, as earlier reported, from fallen Festival Network by founder George Wein, though he didn’t get JVC behind him.
- Also free: the 31st annual Chicago Jazz Festival and 30th annual Detroit International Jazz Festival), both scheduled for Labor Day weekend,
- as is the Tanglewood Jazz Festival.
- And many other locales offer festive, outdoor presentations of jazz curated for creative integrity, variety and entertainment value.
If any of them is looking for an experienced editor to put together stunningly readable and relevant program books, will you let me know?