I was manning the phones last week during jazz.fm‘s pledge drive, and found out that they had sold 56 tickets at $750 a pop to individuals interested in co-hosting a half hour show with their favourite on-air personality.
My understanding is that Ross Porter (president) had decided to try this out, offering first 5 sessions, but that they sold so quickly they offered up an unlimited quantity.
I think this came as a huge surprise to jazz.fm, and indeed, they are going to have to make some significant changes to their programming line-up because of it.
Kudos to Ross for having the guts to try something completely different and for sticking with it when it snowballed.
Many in the interactive field would point to this as an indicator of how all broadcast media has been impacted by the dawn of the Internet. But since jazz.fm’s followers are largely boomer+, I would hazard a guess that few made the call because they suddenly believed in their right to have a voice. In fact they made the call because of a basic human need to see their name in lights, and the irresistible opportunity to commune with their favourite radio personality in a jointly-created half-hour programme.
Jazz.fm was a vibrant community long before the Internet, with a very active and cohesive following connected by the thread of radio but also by the strong bond of live music. While it may be true that Ross was inspired to try new things because of a shift that is going on with broadcast media, it is clear that the preconditions for success were already there.
However, this breakthrough indicates that the jazz community is ripe for interactive communication on a whole other level. I’ve already seen it in musician blogs and instrument communities – but jazz.fm has some real potential to connect to their existing community with multiple lines of communication (I wanted to say “multiple threads that will weave a stronger social fabric” but a small amount of bile came up in my throat).
- Create a home for the community to flourish (hosted on jazz.fm or via Ning or some other): You’ve tapped into the power of personal involvement, now give everyone a voice. But don’t just make it open season – anoint community leaders, give people roles and tasks like “this thread will be to create the seminal big band era concert list and the results will be played on jazzfm” etc.
- Create a platform for musicians to connect to their following. Musicians are notoriously bad at self-promotion and networking. Create a format that ensures that their success reflects upon jazz.fm and builds a stronger community. A simple way to get this started is to allow musicians to create and host discussion threads or chats, but it could go as far as personalized jazz.fm home pages, easily customizable, with twitter feeds and calendar entries that fold into the overall what’s “In The Clubs”.
- A mobile app (iPhone or other) that shows what’s playing on air, the club calendar, and some fun element that keeps people coming back like a jazz trivia game
No doubt a killjoy will point out the average age of the jazz.fm community and suggest that “my dad never goes online”. But to this I would say a) 80% of boomers are connected and b) jazz isn’t dead or dying – and the youth of today all expect this – so build it now and they will come…