16% Still Listen to Jazz Despite Declining Popularity

According to Nielsen‰Û÷s 2014 Year-​End Report, jazz is continuing to fall out of favor with American listeners and has tied with classical music as the least-​consumed musicåÊin the U.S., after children‰Ûªs music. Both jazz and classicalåÊrepresent juståÊ1.4% of total U.S. music consumption a piece. However, classical album sales were higher for 2014, which puts jazz at the bottom of the barrel.

David La Rosa writes in "Jazz Has Become The Least-​Popular Genre In The U.S.," "This continues an alarming trend that hasåÊseen more and more listeners move away from jazz every year. Album sales have long been a key measure of the popularity of individual genres, and year after yearåÊjazz album sales continue to fall."

In 2011,åÊa total of 11 million jazz albums (CD, cassette, vinyl, & digital) were sold, according to BusinessWeek. This represents 2.8% of all music sold in that year. However, just a year later, in 2012, that percentage fell to 2.2%. It rose slightly to 2.3% in 2013 before falling once again to just 2% in 2014. That 2% represents just 5.2 million albums sold byåÊall jazz artists in 2014.

"Some have tried to explain away Jazz‰ÛªsåÊcontinuing decline in the rankings by citing the fact that popular crossover albums, like Robert Glasper‰Û÷s Black Radio and Black Radio 2, are rarely classified as jazz," La Rosa wrote. "But the fact remains that new listeners are not engaging with jazz music as they once did andåÊlong-​time jazz listeners often exhibit behaviors that result in them ignoring new releases, even by established artists."

Jazz was the only genre to have its digital album sales decline, year-​on-​year, between 2011 and 2012. And more recently, even though the use of on-​demand streaming services like Spotifygrew by 54.5% between 2013 and 2014; jazz music represented just 0.3% of all music streamed during the same period.

"This is indicative of an aging listenership that is slow to adapt to new technologies," according to La Rosa. "As more and more traditional record stores go out of business, it‰Ûªs becoming harder foråÊthese veteran stalwarts of the genre to access new releases, while the few digital natives that actively listen to jazz are clearly finding it difficult to carry the numbers."

The hardcore fans are still out there! AudienceSCAN reveals 16% of Americans love jazz, so target them in a way that brings jazz back to the party! 45% of Jazz Lovers are female. This audience spends money on the arts: 37% will go to arts festivals, 33% attend jazz concerts and 28% plan on going to music fests. And don't forget about the fans who also play: Jazz Lovers are 75% more likely than average to enjoy playing musical instruments. In the past month, 27% of Jazz Lovers took action after seeing ads in the newspaper (print, online, mobile or tablet).

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.