Saturday, June 19, 2010

Generation Free, and the Sad State of Music Sales, as seen through a Jazz lens

Here are some statistics:
According to the NARM (National Association of Record Merchants):
In 2005 there were 21,000 albums released. The top selling album, from Mariah Carey, sold just under 5 million copies. All of the Top 5 albums sold in excess of 3 million copies. The next 5 all sold in excess of 2 million copies.
In 2009 there were 98,000 albums released. The top selling album, from L’il Wayne, sold 2.87 million copies. Only the top four albums of the year sold more than 2 million copies. An additional sobering fact is that only slightly more than 2000 of the albums released in 2009 (2.1%) sold more than 5000 copies.

According to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America):
Between 2005 and 2008, Total US dollar sales volume dropped over 30%. In 2009 this number dropped an additional 12.3% (this annual decrease is accelerating each year since 2005). CD sales actually dropped 20.5% in 2009, but the numbers were buoyed by an increase in digital sales by 9.6%
In 1999 Jazz music sales were 3% of total music sales.
In 2005 Jazz music sales were 1.8% of total music sales.
In 2009 Jazz music sales were 1.1% of total music sales.
Jazz has always been a niche market, but now that niche seems to be getting smaller. On top of that, if you look at the Billboard Magazine top 25 jazz albums from 2009, 18 of them were by jazz vocalists (or vocalists that released albums backed by jazz musicians).
OK, so now let’s do some assumptions, based on these numbers and jazz albums. (I know, these are projections and are based on manipulating these statistics, so don’t hold me to this).
Let’s say the jazz market recovers, to be 2% of the total music market (this could happen – sales have been averaging around 1.8% for the last 4 years). And let’s say that this represents the same percentage of total albums released. That would mean that around 1,960 jazz albums were released last year (who knows what % of this number is actually re-releases, or new releases of old material?). This means that there are about 38 new jazz releases coming out every week of the year.
If only 2% of these albums become “hits” (sell over 5000 copies), this means that only about 39 jazz albums a year have a shot at really being “noticed”. And if we use last years Billboard chart as an example, only 11 of these albums will be instrumental jazz. Wow.
Now add to this mix that the jazz audience continues to get older as the years pass, and that the younger generation, even if they are interested in jazz, are not “collectors” but are “samplers” – people that are happy to stream the music off the internet or download it for free from illegal music sharing sites, but not about to spend their cash on actually BUYING the music.
So why do I still make the music, and put out albums? The odds are stacked against it ever having any financial value. Why do I continue to promote the music that I love? I guess for me it is my preferred means of expression. It fills my soul. It helps fill the souls of those that come to see the live shows, and those that listen to the music. More and more it has to be about LOVE, not COMMERCE. And maybe, that is a good thing.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Magical Night at Catalina Bar and Grill

The CD release party for SECRETS FROM THE JAZZ GHETTO was an amazing success. A solid group of George Kahn fans - new and old - turned out in Hollywood last night to celebrate the album and party with me and the band. Catalina's is such a great club - wonderful piano, great sound system, lighting, ambiance... it is just a wonderful place to play and hear music.

The night started with the trio (myself, Karl Vincent and M. B. Gordy) playing "Eleanor Rigby", off the Cover Up! CD. Then Larry Klimas came on stage and joined us to play am arrangement of "Over The Rainbow". Larry was channeling Stan Getz, I think, and did a beautiful job. Then John Fumo joined us onstage to complete the Quintet, and we ran through a selection of originals from the new album. Some old songs ("Millennium Schmellenium", and "Freedom Vessel") and some new ("Waltz For Diana") were played. Roberta Donnay, my friend from San Francisco, joined us for the ballad "Out Of Time", and then came back to sing the new Bossa Nova, "Sombras De Noite" with Justo Almario joining us on a rare flute performance. It was great to hear Justo play the flute again, he plays all the wind instruments, including an amazing clarinet, and this was an especially beautiful solo.

Once Justo was onstage with us, all bets were off. Justo switched to Tenor sax, and joined in on burning versions of "Wes' Coast", and "Soul Sauce". Then Larry came back on stage and all three horns played on the new song, "Wayne's World", dedicated to Wayne Shorter. Larry and M.B. both played their asses off on solos.
Finally, Roberta joined us again onstage and sang "Compared To What?" with the whole band joining in.

BY 10:00 PM we had to wrap it up. I had revealed some (but not all) of the Secrets, and even spoke a little bit about the Jazz Ghetto (this is a work in progress). And before everyone left, they all got "party favors" - either a poster, a Midnight Brew coffee mug, or a Cover Up "floaty" pen. It was a great night, filled with old and new friends, (Bob Claster, my friend from Junior High School took the award for the oldest friend), and wonderful music.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The New Album is HERE!

The first review of George Kahn's new jazz album, Secrets From The Jazz Ghetto, has been posted on Tell me what you think.

All About Jazz Review

The album is available here on

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sharing The Music

The journey that began summer of 2008
when I played the Temecula Valley Jazz Festival
and won a day at Park Hill Studio in Hemet
comes to fruition this week
with the release of the album that contains that session:
"Secrets From The Jazz Ghetto"

The journey included the recording date in January 2009,
shortly before my sax player Andy Suzuki moved to Berlin,
continued through having the tracks mixed in Los Angeles by Carl Sealove,
adding an extra song (the bossa nova "Sombras de Noite"),
and then the decision to use this album as a chance
to feature my original compositions, rather than arrangements of other people's songs.

Then mastering the recording at Future Disc,
the photo shoot with Mara Zaslove,
and having the design team at DiscMakers help put the package together.

And now, this week,
distribution starts through BDC,
and 400 terrestrial and internet radio stations
have a chance to play the music.
This is the week
sharing the music with friends
and with the world.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Only one week away! Catalina Jazz Club, Wednesday Julne 16

Event: CD Release Party
Hosted by: George Kahn
Jun 16, 2010,
7:00 PM

to 10:00 PM

Location: Catalina Bar & Grill

6725 W Sunset Blvd Ste 100, Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Don Quixote

My quixotic search to be a Jazz Artist takes a new turn now
as I release my 6th jazz album.

Today I feel a lot like Don Quixote
tilting at windmills
pursuing a dream that has little connection with most people's reality.
Am I delusional
or do I just see real things that others don't perceive?

It is hard right now to separate the ego (is this just inflated self-worth?) from talent and ability.

It all started from my Mission
to share my music with the world.
I have a gift, and I need to share it.
I have always held that if I write music close to my heart,
it will have an impact on others
and the money will follow.

When it comes to music,
money is just one way that I get paid.
But I sold the first copies of the new 2-CD set yesterday
and that sure felt nice.

And it is a wonderful week, filled with music
August 10 - at Vitello's, with Roberta Donnay
August 11 - at The Hip Kitty, with Roberta Donnay
August 16th - at Catalina Bar and Grill for my CD Release Party!