Thanks to my friend Brian Barrett, Director of Development with the Ottawa Jazz Festival, we got to witness the beginning of the new business growth of one of Ottawa’s hidden gems. The Ottawa Jazz Festival.
For years the Ottawa Jazz Festival has been the ‘poor sister’ (not the ugly sister as Jazz is a refined music so some may say the more beautiful sister…just not as rich) to BluesFest in July. BluesFest no longer caters to ‘blues’ as it has drifted towards a younger ‘pop/rock/indie/rap’ oriented demographic. This said they have been successful at it and are now one of Canada’s largest summer music venues. This is good news for the Ottawa Jazz Festival.
I have never been to the Ottawa Jazz Festival, although my wife and I enjoy listening to jazz pretty much every weekend. This said we are not knowledgeable enough or aware of the current crop of jazz artists. So we tend to stick to the old classics until somebody brings new information to us about a current rising star or a great piece of music. Then we are all over it. This said, I think we represent the average potential Ottawa JazzFest client (the 35+ demographic). We need to be spoonfed when it comes to jazz. Why? considering the fact that we like the music style enough to listen to it every weekend? I think it is simply marketing. The type of marketing. Jazz purests like Ken Gray of the Ottawa Citizen seem to think it is only about ‘quality’. While that is the core of any business or service (and the Jazz Festival is a business that provides the service of music perfromances), if the outside world does not know about you or your great service…or are not draw towards you basically you will be going to be out of business sooner than you think. Businesss development centered around realistic marketing is the key to future success.
Like good food and fine wine, I believe the jazz genre offers a range of styles that are an excellent partner with high quality blues and other notable music styles. There is a magnificent opportunity for the Ottawa Jazz Festival to grow an audience…and an opporutnity to bring semi-knowledgeable people like me into the fold. It is also a significant business and tourism opportunity for downtown restaurants and merchants (I would rather enjoy a nice time downtown, have a decent meal at a good resaurant, walk over to JazzFest, sit or stand close to the staff among tame and respectable music fans, enjoy the venue in general – vs the hot, dusty, loud expereince that BluesFest has become.
To my friend Brian and the Ottawa Jazz Festival organizers, recognize and exploit the moment of opportunity. BTW Blues great John Mayall was the perfect respectful musician. He could have rocked it out with heavy blues, but he pulled back and even offered up some entertaining jazzy tunes. Along with the high quality musicianship of The Robert Cray Band the night was not ‘jazz’ but is was thoroughly enjoyable. I plan to enjoy another night or two at Ottawa JazzFest next year.
Ottawa Jazz Festival website: http://ottawajazzfestival.com/