Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Smalls Jazz Club On-line: Why the Hubub?

On December 28th I blogged about Smalls Jazz Club, how much I enjoyed being there over the holidays, and also about the terrific idea of streaming the live shows for those of us who cannot be there regularly.

Tonight I noticed on the club's facebook site that there seems to be some controversy about the streaming live concept, and frankly am floored:

  • I don't think anyone is stealing the music, particularly since the archives can be viewed but not downloaded. And if they are stealing it, they are probably too cheap to come to the club anyway, and represent only a tiny part of the audience.
  • On line I see support from Mike LeDonne, Orrin Evans, and other musicians who  realize that this will only increase their exposure and down the line, hopefully their revenues from CDs, live shows around the world, etc. I don't think they are concerned that they are losing the revenues from that night's show at Smalls.
  • I saw responses on Small's Facebook page from Canada, France, Germany, and all over the U.S. appreciating the opportunity  to watch the shows live, and to see artists they might never see. I saw only a handful of folks who had other thoughts, like the guy who claims he no longer is going to his local clubs as much, or the guy who says he can still do downloads.
There seems to be some disagremeent whether there is any bad press or bad-mouthing of Smalls or Spike out there. It appears that those who were at the conference in NY this past week heard an overwhelming majority of positive reactions, and Spike had one musician cancel on him.

I reiterate what I said in December: This is a tremendously forward thinking idea that can bring jazz to those who cannot get to the clubs. It will expose players that people don't know well enough to those who choose to enroll. And it is not being done to line Spike's pockets, as many, many musicians have noted on line. From Mike LeDonne:

"Bottom line is we all know and trust Spike. He's not just some guy who owns a club. He's one of us so go ahead Spike. Break new ground bro."

From Spike:

"My decision to go to a membership basis for our web stream was because I was up against a wall financially with the club. We are at our capacity earnings-wise with mounting costs. Our web stream offers us an opportunity to receive support world-wide so that Smalls can continue into the future. People who are my friends know my intentions and trust me to do the right thing. Revenue from the stream is going to go directly to subsidizing the club and increasing the bread for the musicians. I am also creating an emergency relief fund for musicians in need. That already came into play last week for a musician who was in trouble - ask Aaron Diehl or Wycliffe Gordon if you want to know about that situation."

And it is being done for a pittance. For $20.00 I can see shows for a full year; that is basically a ridiculous discount. 365 nights of music for 5 grande lattes at Starbucks, or for the price of two movie tickets, or for the price of a single CD.

So here is what should you do:
  • First, if you haven't taken advantage of this offer, please do.
  • Second, if there is anyone who is actually reading this blog please go on the Smalls Facebook site and tell him you support this effort. And any other sites you think would help the cause.
  • Three, please go to your local clubs, and to Smalls when you get a chance. The streaming is great, but there is still nothing better than being there live, feeling the energy in the room, and being a part of the live experience. 
  • Four, buy the CDs from Smalls Live. they are a great listen.
Without this financial support, Smalls could go the way of many other clubs and shut down its doors, and then we all lose. The other day the NYTimes had an article about Nicholle Mitchell moving to San Diego, and one of the reasons cited in addition to the steady gig at the University there was that two of her favorite clubs in Chicago closed their doors last year. Let's not let it happen here, at Small's or at any other club. Support the music in person when you can, and on-line when you cannot.

Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. I also support the membership system , but not long ago i was using the archive to listen to the shows but now it seems to not work at all , i mean you can still see the blue recording machine but cant press play, do you have the same problem?