Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tweeting for the Music: The Jazz You Save May Be Your Own

Tweeting is for twits, right? After all the first four letters in Twitter are "Twit."

Okay, I don't despise Twitter, or people who Tweet, quite that much. The communications vehicle has demonstrated its worth, I'm told, as a way for artists and organizations to quickly disseminate important information. Twitter makes it easier for journalists to scoop the competition.

At any rate, I'm happy to see Twitter being used to promote one of my favorite causes -- jazz. As explained, below, by magazine writer and book author Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association, jazz listeners can use Twitter to demonstrate the size and enthusiasm of the audience for jazz.

Here's what Howard has to say on the subject:

Is the audience for jazz aging and diminishing, as Terry Teachout wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently? I don't believe it and don't think you buy it completely either, despite the NEA's 2008 survey data. I think that survey overlooked a significant segment of the vital audience for live jazz today, and propose a small social networking experiment, asking tech savvy listeners to tweet #jazzlives, who & where, in 140 characters.

Over the next couple weeks there are myriad big jazz events, starting in NYC the Charlie Parker Jazz Fest is Saturday and Sunday), continuing to the Labor Day weekend fests at Tanglewood, Chicago, Detroit, Aspen, Los Angeles, Vail, Philly, Chapel Hill, etc., then on through Monterey and the Beantown (Boston) fests (we'll keep the campaign going, as long as it works). The music needn't be heard at a fest, of course -- it can be at a stand-along concert, a gig, live-jazz-broadcast on radio or online, in the subway or street, at a party, whatever.

If you Tweet, use hashtag #jazzlives. If you have a Twitter account, please help kick things off TODAY with a tweet that includes #jazzlives, who you heard most recently and where (venue and/or locale). That way, you (or anyone) will be able to track these tweets with a Twitter search and on TweetDeck and similar services. We have created a special "widget" for blogs and websites that will show all #jazzlives tweets in real time-- which is sort of the fun of it for those who like these things, and will collate all the tweets so we can count them, hopefully to prove how many of us there are. If you want the widget, email

MOST BRIEFLY, here's all anyone has to do to participate:

1) Write in a Tweet WHO you heard and WHERE (venue, locale, whatever fits)

2) MOST IMPORTANT: include hashmark #jazzlives.

EXAMPLE: I heard Vanguard Orch at Tanglewood, super! #jazzlives

EXAMPLE: I heard Hank Jones, solo at Detroit Int JF, mighty fine #jazzlives

Include links to your blog or website in your Tweet if you like, like this --

EXAMPLE: I heard Eubanks 5 be great at Blue Note NYC, full revu at #jazzlives

That's it. These initial tweets will seed the project by getting the #jazzlives out there and giving us some initial content for our widget. We hope this will build to a noticeable surge. Could we get as many tweets and postings as there were people at Woodstock?

Please note: Tweets with #jazzlives are NOT intended to publicize upcoming events or for comments on recordings you're listening to, but rather for reports on LIVE jazz you've actually heard recently. If you heard it live over the radio, that counts!

The widget won't be branded by any group or individual, so it should complement and not compete with your own online social networking work and may help promote that work or local projects. But our initiative's main aim is just to see how we can use new features of social networking to give all styles of jazz -- defined however you want -- a higher profile by showing how many of us listeners to live jazz there are.

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