Jazzreview.com: What prompt you to contact jazzreview.com?
Jesse King: I initially contacted Morrice (publisher of jazzreview.com) because he has a really great laid out site, with a lot of good contacts and I thought it would be great if we looked into doing something with each other to help promote each other's site.
Jazzreview.com: It's a practice more people need to do particularly when they are speaking the same language, jazz and it's music.
Jesse King: Absolutely, after speaking to Morrice the first time, we seem to be very much in the same mind, which is great, and I'm hoping in December to introduce a column of the jazzreview.com on the homepage of JazzPromo. It will be updated fairly regularly and to help get the word out about jazzreview.com with our visitors and vice versa.
Jazzreview.com: What 's the visitor rate at Jazzpromo?
Jesse King: We have about 30,000 visitors per month and right now we just upgraded to our 4th server in the last 2 months. And as we speak we are working out the final kinks. One of the things we have on Jazzpromo which is fantastic are the MP3 downloads, unlike MP3.com and other areas we are not trying to have quantity but we want quality. The ability to get in touch with the different record labels as well as the artist's music that we sell and distribute on line. We provide a MP3 format and right now we do about 15,000 MP3 downloads per month. It's growing very fast, we have a mailing list that has about 6,000 people now and grows by 50-75 people every day.
It's been very fascinating doing this, when we first started out it wasn't initially with this goal in mind. It evolved on it's own, as I'm sure it did at jazzreview.com, it evolved on it's own. You see what the interest is and that's where you go. For us it's been great and since April we have been supplying content to other websites.
Jazzreview.com: That's excellent ! When did you realize that you wanted to develop a jazz website? Considering the growing number of jazz websites that are popping up everywhere.
Jesse King: The way it began essentially is the parent company that owns jazzpromo is Music Media Network and we do radio promotion and have done so for the past 10 years. We have over the last few years expanded and probably have one of the largest radio promotion in the world, covering all of Canada, the U.S., and Europe. We have worked with many artist in Canada and are currently working with Brian Hughes, who is now on the charts of R&R and does extremely well in the U.S.
We became very involved in the jazz community and just through family association, (My father who runs the Jazz Report Magazine and his own jazz label) we decided early in the year that we would create a separate site for all of our jazz artist and people that we worked with. As you know jazz is not as well recognized as Pop music so we started to create MP3. We began with 5 and within 2 or 3 weeks we already had 1,000 downloads of these 5 songs.
Jazzreview.com: Wow ! It started with 5 songs....
Jesse King: Yes, we started distributing and selling CDs on-line . It's like what we did when we work with an artist, we would say to them, we would like to make one MP3 available from your album to the general public, to share, to sell, whatever may happen because once it becomes public domain you have no control over it. But it's a great way to promote your material. It's a lot cheaper than sending a post card, running an ad or sending a CD and that's how it began. It's probably very similar to the jazzreview.com where people find out suddenly there's another outlet that can do reviews because the New York Times and Billboard are inundated, and with the radio stations the priority goes to the majors, the major artist. I have had so many clients who come to me and provide material and there it is ,the review from jazzreview.com.
That's how I actually became a lot more aware of jazzreview.com and watching the site a little bit, and we saw this niche and at the time, Jazz Central Station had folded (this was after we were on-line for about a month). This was a wonderful site, they had content, a lot of access to people, but we felt we could help fill this one area where they weren't so involved. In late April we started working with Diamond Reel company. The Diamond Reel Company manufactured the portable MP3 players. They were the leading manufacturer and we supply the contents of their website that has gone on-line for a few months. We receive a lot of traffic from that. Plus we have been on several compilations that Diamond Reel Company has produced. It has been a great way for us to gain exposure.
Jazzreview.com: You mentioned the fact that companies like the New York Times and Billboard would expose a lot of the major artist but what disturbs me is the fact that the lesser known artist has a difficult time getting his or her music out.
Jesse King: That's right, there are tons of them. You are always going to find the lesser established artist and not necessarily the lesser musician. I've found when you're growing in music, being surrounded by the different elements and being a musician myself, most musicians don't have a clear focus on what they need to do in order to get themselves exposed. They focus solely on getting the music better and then getting a CD out and then being unsure of how to promote it, what they should do and the various aspects that are important in order to sustain a career.
Jazz is a very intellectual art form. In my opinion, it's because it takes a lot of concentration and talent to really procure the high end jazz that's out there. The artist really has no idea.
Jazzreview.com: This is so correct, The artist is caught in a catch 22.
Jesse King: They (the artist) are always keen though. They are interested in what's going on, there are so many artist with great CDs and they never thought of what to do with it other than selling them out of shows. So, that's one of the great things for us we have so many wonderful people such as; O'han Demere who is Turkish, resides in Canada and has the fastest fingers I have ever heard in my life. He has had great reviews in Jazz Times, Jazziz, Downbeat and all the different magazines but he is still having a hard time. So for us it's a great opportunity for us to expose this artist right now.
Since we do 15,000 downloads and we hope it will continue to grow. We are about to embark on a mini press campaign basically with the publicist that we work with when we do radio. They act (the publicist) on our behalf, so a lot of jazz writers know of us because she's well respected. That'll be additional exposure for our musicians and hence everyone else that we are connected with; such as the jazzreview.com and different sites.
Jazzreview.com: You mentioned earlier that you are a musician. What instrument do you play?
Jesse King: I play the bass drum and guitar and doodle on the piano. I was classically trained on the upright bass. Unfortunately, I don't tend to play as much anymore.
Jazzreview.com: Is that because you are very involved with your artists and the development of the jazzpromo?
Jesse King: You know growing up, I always thought that I would be a musician, it has always been a given for me as I got older and started playing in clubs and mini touring and different things. I really love playing but I don't think I enjoyed what came along with it as much. I found doing this is a great outlet because I get to do a little bit of everything.
Jazzreview.com: You will always be a musician so don't give up the instrument.
Jesse King: I don't think I ever could.
Jazzreview.com: I recently heard of your site from an artist named, Rick Del Ratta.
Jesse King: Rick was the first person to contact me. We are selling his CD on Jazzpromo. When we started out we only had about 15 titles, very small, now we are up to over 100 independent artist. We will be adding standard catalogues hopefully people will like it. So far they have liked the few we've put there. Again, we don't want to become like CDNow. That's not our goal. We'll provide you the same titles and hopefully you'll like to come to our site oppose to CDNow, it's more jazz oriented. If I was looking to buy jazz I would prefer to go to somewhere like jazzreview.com where there is information as well. A place I feel comfortable with again, oppose to some of the larger CD stores.
Jesse King: Do you play an instrument?
Jazzreview.com: No, I studied classical music and jazz as a vocalist throughout high school and college, what I've done is combined my love for music and writing.
Jesse King: What I would like to see happen either at our site or someone's site is a great book on the transition of one of the history books of jazz available. I have seen a little section like jazz101 it has it's basic definition but it would be great to have an encyclopedia of jazz on-line with the audio video. It would be a tremendous endeavor but it would be highly interesting.
Jazzreview.com: You could literally go back and forth in jazz history, you could hear a little bit of Miles or Coltrane (who is one of my favorites) and then go forward and hear Marcus Roberts or Diana Krall.
Jesse King: Coltrane is your favorite, we also have produced a jazz show that started with a family member; Bill King (who writes jazz) he had a 26 station syndication jazz show in Canada until 1991 when the federal regulations were changed. Basically stating you didn't have to specialize content any longer. So all the programs were dropped, which included blues, reggae, dance shows, jazz shows in favor of the top 40 music or adult contemporary. A lot of people thought it was a great show. That's one of the great things about being on-line, we're able to reinvent the show and provide it on-line.
One of the things we have coming up is a full powered series on John Coltrane. We are working with a site in Poland that is the Yahoo of Poland. They have already had two series on John Coltrane and received a lot of positive response from it. In the near future we will include them on-line at our site.
Jazzreview.com: Have you thought why we're seeing a resurgence of the popularity of jazz?
Jesse King: I think what is happening with artist like Harry Connick Jr., Boney James, Kenny G they tow the line of jazz. I think it's like anything else when you first discover something, I find their music is more acceptable than music by Charlie Parker. I think what happens is once you listen to Diana Krall you may feel she's a lot more interesting than say Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday and you kinda go into the history of it and as you acquire and develop a liking for the other artist that's going to lead you down the path to the heritage of jazz, the traditional jazz. Unfortunately, that resurgence is not happening in the actual CD sale. Which is too bad. In fact we have lost marketshare but there is definitely more awareness of it. We have the label 32 record out of New York who have four #1 sellers with the whole series they put together. Which simply made it more accessible, such as "Jazz for a rainy day", "Jazz for a series". They did tremendously well with these and had a great picture on the cover. Which is something we would like to start, providing a description of music for people who may not be as aware of what jazz is and the different styles of jazz.
Jazzreview.com: What do you think of the many jazz festivals? I think the only time there is not a festival held is during the month of December (laughter).
Jesse King: Yes, a new one is added every year, there is also a festival guide in Jazziz and Jazz Times. I'm involved in the Beach international jazz festival in Toronto, not as much anymore. Bill is the music director, when they started the festival 11 years ago we had 10,000 people attending in 2 days but now they have attracted 750,000 people. It's a huge festival about 20 blocks on the main street.
Jazzreview.com: When is it?
Jesse King: It's the last week of July. It starts with 3 nights of music with 30-50 bands scattered along the streets. It's fantastic, it's warm, there's jazz, funk, blues, a great variation of music. They also have a 2 day show held in the park called Kew Gardens, that's where the big shows are held.
Jazzreview.com: Tell me a little about the magazine called Jazz Report?
Jesse King: The Jazz Report is a magazine going into it's 12th year now. It started with partners Greg Sullivan and Bill King. It began as a newsletter and evolved on it's own. It's distributed internationally, it's still very small but growing yearly . It's available at Barnes and Nobles, Tower Records and several other outlets. They cover profiles, reviews, interviews and have an educators section, where artist provide charts, where people can play and see what they are playing. I would consider them the leading jazz magazine in Canada. They started a Jazz Report awards 6 years ago. A couple of years ago Oscar Peterson and Diana Krall were honored. I had the pleasure of escorting Oscar into the awards ceremony (he was ill at the time).
During the month of March we brought the Jazz Report on-line. Being on-line as help them because like jazzreview.com and other websites it allows them to reach more people, that may under normal circumstances not be accessible to Asia or parts of Europe.
As far as magazines are concerned the jazzreview.com substantially reaches more readers or visitors than a lot of magazines, particularly with the operations involved (server etc.) when you don't have the paper cost or distribution cost you can grow a lot faster.
With the 2 sites working together, they can help each other gain additional exposure, given the fact that we are doing something quite different.
Jazzreview.com: That's exactly what makes it difference...
Jesse King: Absolutely, That's why we can do it. But I will also work with my competitors, I have no problem because I don't and I think Morrice and other persons who have similar positions have nothing to worry about. There's no way I would be able to meet so many musicians without this medium.
Jazzreview.com: Thanks for talking to us about what you guys are doing at Jazzpromo and best of luck.