Music Business

Is Smooth Jazz Dead Or Is It Just Bad Data?

Smooth jazz radioJust a few years ago, smooth jazz was hugely popular on radio stations throughout the nation. Recently the genre has been in decline, but is that genuinely a result of fewer listeners, or simply bad data?

Guest Post by Bobby Owsinski on Music 3.0

For a while there in 1990s and early 2000s "smooth jazz" was front and center in radio stations in every major city across the country. Many former rock stations switched to the smooth jazz format in an effort to boost ratings and, for a while, it worked.

That trend has drastically changed however, and we might have seen the last of the format for a while, at least on radio.

Stations that featured smooth jazz have seen their ratings plummet recently, causing most to bolt to another format to attract more advertisers.

But why? One theory is that smooth jazz stations struggled to attract younger listeners, which is the most desirable demographic for advertisers. Still, there seemed to be plenty of listeners in the almost-as-desirable 25-54 age demo.

SmoothjazzwjjzWhich means that the demise of the radio format may in fact be due to bad data supplied by Nielsen, who's the dominant ratings provider for both radio and television. The idea is that people were still listening, but they weren't being counted due to being in the wrong demographic.

I'm not a proponent or listener of the smooth jazz format, but the lesson here is that if it happens to one format, it can happen to others as well. Having listeners doesn't equal having the right kind of listeners for many advertisers, and by extension the station groups that own the radio stations. No wonder radio content is worst than ever. Thank you very much Madison Avenue.


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