Improvisation in the digital age: New narratives in jazz promotion and dissemination


  • Haftor Medbøe Edinburgh Napier University
  • José Dias Instituto de Etnomusicologia - Música e Dança (INET-MD)



Those that create, promote and disseminate jazz are experiencing a period of radical change. The dwindling interest from the major labels in releasing jazz has led to a mushrooming of both traditionally imagined and virtual independent jazz labels, often musician-led by individuals or collectives. Despite the ‘democratised’ potentials of digital dissemination made possible through third party vendors and streaming services such as iTunes and Spotify, modest or non-existent advertising budgets and lack of coherent marketing strategies often result in independent releases being drowned in the noise of an overcrowded marketplace. Financial returns from limited sales are also modest. The commercial underpinning that in previous times afforded the jazz musician both potential apprenticeship and métier has become fractured through increasing scarcity of record company and private/public funding. Against this black backdrop, musicians have engaged in new ways of disseminating their work. DIY strategies, such as free download netlabels or interactive app-albums, have become increasingly commonplace. Fresh approaches — the need for which are highlighted in this article with reference to the European jazz scene — indicate how musicians are networking informally, often with little or no institutional support. This paper highlights to what extent market realignments have prompted individual and collective creative responses to current difficulties associated with the promotion of jazz music.

Author Biography

Haftor Medbøe, Edinburgh Napier University

Jazz Musician in Residence/Lecturer in Composition
School of Arts and Creative Industries
Edinburgh Napier University




How to Cite

Medbøe, H., & Dias, J. (2014). Improvisation in the digital age: New narratives in jazz promotion and dissemination. First Monday, 19(10).