The demographics of blues and jazz listeners in 6 graphs

Who makes up the demographics of the blues and jazz audience? It’s a question that has perplexed jazz artists for years. Based on a recent study in the U.S. by the Jazz Audiences Initiative (JAI), a project spearheaded by the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus (JAG) we’ve prepared a report showing how what this tell us about blues and jazz fans like you and us.

Dave Specter Credit: Creative Commons
Dave Specter Credit: Creative Commons

If you’re a jazz artist, you might believe that all jazz fans love all jazz.

If you’re a jazz fan like us, you might believe that all jazz artists instinctively play what’s best for the jazz audience. Remarkably both of these statements are wrong, most jazz fans are “jazz dabblers” according to the report. But how do they breakdown in more detail.

Here is the interactive version.

Jazz musicians:

According to the Jazz Audiences Initiative study, only a small slice of the jazz pie is actually made up of musicians of any notes.

Only 14 per cent of the jazz audience is considered “knowledgeable musicians.”

They’re like football experts that understand the rules of offside. They’re identified by their first-hand jazz knowledge.

Jazz omnivores:

According to the study the next most knowledgeable group is “jazz omnivores,” who 17 per cent of those survey. Jazz is most of the music they consume and they will look for classics and rare bits of the genre. In the evenings they go out to sate their hunger for Jazz, looking for the underground sound but also going to places like Ronnie Scotts.

Jazz dabblers :

The remaining 69 per cent of the jazz audience consists of people who have a much more passing interest in the genre. If they can be subdivided into categories such as “comfort seekers,” “social butterflies,” “standard fare partners” and “comfort seekers.” It is safe to assume that Jazz dabblers seek out jazz occasionally, but have other hobbies and it is something than only forms part of their record collection.

According to the study, not all jazz fans are super fans like many jazz musicians and omnivores might believe. Dabblers can be any demographic you imagine: single women, older couples, a football loving builder. Jazz music they love would typically be something like “What a Wonderful World.” Jazz makes them happy.

Here is each category:

Knowledgeable Musicians (14%):

– Most likely to be younger men (80% male) – Heavily involved in music activities – Seek intellectually challenging jazz experiences

Jazz-Centered Omnivores (17%):

– Second most likely to be male – High preference for Standards and Masters artists – Seek emotional experience through jazz – Most likely to be single

Urban Culture Dabblers (17%):

– Most likely to attend art museums and stage plays – Preferences for Eclectic and World (Keith Jarrett) and Pop Crossover (B.B. King) artists

Standard Fare Partners (19%):

– Combination of Jazz-Centered Omnivores and Social Butterflies – Prefer Standards and Masters, in particular,Diana Krall – Likely to be older married men

Comfort Seekers (12%):

– Least knowledgeable of all segments – Seek jazz experiences that are familiar (that they can hum along to) – Older than other segments

Social Butterflies (20%):

– Most likely to be women – Like jazz that makes them ‘tap their toes’ – Most likely to be Responders

So what are their demographics:

What is their employment status? newbluesjazzdata1

In line with other statistics discovered blues and jazz listeners have higher levels of employment than the population in general. This can be seen as reflective of their high levels of education.

What is their level of education? newbluesjazzdata2

It is clear the blues and jazz listeners tend to be an educated group, this is reflective of our experiences. What do you feel about it?

What is their marital status? newbluesjazzdata3

What is interesting is that the marital status of jazz fans is comparable to that of each group in general in the population.

How white is each group? newbluesjazzdata4

This would appear to not be completely the case, with non-white demographics well represented. Especially this is true for jazz centred omnivores who are 33 per cent non white.

How old are they?

The age demographics of jazz listeners change with the type of group they belong to, although the overall statistics tell us they tend to have over 45.

So what can we learn from this?

Well blues and jazz is certainly listened to by a diverse range, they tend to be slightly younger, overwhelmingly white, married and well educated.  By clicking on the links you can explore the data for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Get in contact with us @bluesjazzlondon and tell us what you think. Remember to explore what the data is saying!


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