Culture

Jazz Radio in a Streaming World

todayNovember 5, 2021 8

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As a result of Shawn Fanning’s Napster’s P2P file sharing technology launched in 1999 that changed the landscape of the recorded music industry practically overnight, streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music have become the accepted way for people to access and listen to music. On the plus side, these platforms killed the rampant piracy caused by Napster’s model – why bother stealing music when it’s so cheap and easy to stream? On the other hand, with the traditional gatekeepers such as record companies, publishers and studios no longer in control due to infinitely lower recording costs and easy access to distribution services for artists, over 50,000 tracks are uploaded each day with most of them never being heard by more than a handful of people while the good music is easily lost in the shuffle.

To help music discovery, the streaming platforms provide an ever-increasing variety of playlists that are compiled by algorithms and especially in the case of Apple Music, real people. Some of these are very good, but it appears many subscribers treat them as more as a fast click through experience or just as a soundtrack in the background, there’s no engagement or information let alone personality.

The writer Haruki Murakami said: ‘I like radio because of the atmosphere it creates, in which people listen individually yet share the experience together. It is quite different from TV or the internet. I feel comfortable in this intimate and personal space’.

One can add to that experience the role of the presenter, who acts as a sensei (or teacher) utilising and sharing their particular specialist musical knowledge and personal taste. They can offer both a filter and a focus on what music they should play and how it all works together. This is especially important in an area like jazz music with so much repertoire available – a library going back one hundred years, as well as a constant torrent of new releases.

Therefore it’s important to find the right presenter, one whose tastes roughly reflect your own. Someone who provides the balance you’d prefer between entertainment and finding out more about the music and gaining a better understanding. There are quite a few excellent presenters making great jazz radio shows and some that I appreciate the most are BBC’s Jazz On 3 with Kevin LeGendre, Jazz FM’s Full Circle with Ruth Fisher and Late Night Jazz with Helen Mayhew, Worldwide FM’s Rebecca Vasmant and Tina Edwards, Soho Radio’s Gearbox Kissaten with Darrel Sheinman and NTS Radio’s You Need This with Jean- Claude.

Hopefully, Jazz On The Beach will one day figure on someone’s list of recommended jazz radio shows.

Written by: Adam Sieff

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