music retail store HMV is once again in trouble but not so surprised to read that Hilco Capital, the supposed white knight, took out almost £50 million in fees during the five year period that it owned HMV (Oliver Shah and Liam Kelly, The Times, 02/01/2019). In a declining high street retail environment, no chain could survive that level of asset stripping without seriously remodelling its sales strategy: something HMV have not done right for many years.
I was also sorry to read that Portsmouth Jazz Society has closed its doors because … ‘audiences have dwindled over the past three years and trying to “drum up” new people to come along, et cetera, et cetera, has become a thankless task.’ Sadly there will be many more jazz clubs run by dedicated volunteers that will close down due to the lack of an audience.
There will also be many who were very disheartened to read that Jazz Journal, the British jazz magazine established in 1946 by Sinclair Traill, is no longer to be produced in printed format. The “magazine” will move online but there has been little information put out as to when and in what format online.
So what is to be done? What can be done? Well look around you, independent shops are starting up as specialists – something HMV did not get right, they simply could not decide what kind of store they wanted to be – vinyl sales on the up, young people coming back in to book stores looking for real books, vintage Hi-fi on trend, even the charity sector diversifying with specialist book & music shops.
The future may not be all that bright at the moment but there are glimmers of hope out there if you only take the time to look for them. Take the Amazon app off your phone and go and talk to people in shops, at clubs and societies and feed off their enthusiasm; who knows, you might just discover something real!
It’s not all doom and gloom because here is a quote from the Times on Saturday 5th January 2019 entitled “All That Jazz”. For the past couple of years London’s new jazz scene has been quietly conquering the world. Now it’s music has reached the ears of presidents. Well former presidents. In a list of the music he most enjoyed listening to in 2018, Barack Obama mentions the track Disco Yes by two young London jazz musicians Tom Misch and Poppy Ajudha. It’s a welcome endorsement of an exciting and fresh cultural movement.
Artists like Mose Boyd, Nubya Garcia and sons of Kemet, who are influenced by genres such as grime and hip hop, as well as traditional jazz, are attracting the youngest audiences jazz had seen in years. Last years Spotify reported an 108 per cent growth in people under 30 listening to British jazz. Spotify itself is probably partly responsible for the genre’s resurgence. Music-streaming services make traditionally inaccessible genres like jazz easier for new audiences to discover. Jazz also goes down well among a generation keen on live music.”