Ken McCarthy operates one the most highly visited jazz websites on the Internet: It routinely gets traffic equal to or greater than magazines like Downbeat or Jazz Times.

In March, Jazz on the Tube was first out of the gate to explain to jazz fans the severe economic impact various shutdown measures were going to have on working musicians.

“The musicians have been stoic about the whole thing, but the reality is this is literally as bad or maybe even worse than the Great Depression in terms of the financial impact on them. Salaried work in this field is very rare. Performing jazz musicians only get paid when they work and there is no work anywhere. In the depths of the Depression, if skilled musicians could get themselves to places like Kansas City, Chicago, or New York, they could work. In this environment, even that possibility has been taken from them.”

To respond, McCarthy created the first, and still the only, comprehensive resource that documents jazz musicians who are reaching their audiences via live-streaming.

There are a number of short, and largely random, lists of links to live-stream performances elsewhere online, but Jazz on the Tube is the only site that provides a daily calendar of performances; a directory of hundreds of live-streaming jazz musicians with easy-to-access archives of their performances; and detailed profiles of the musicians including the all important information of how to pay them directly.

“Our job is not only to make it easy for fans to find and keep up with their favorite musicians, but also to educate fans that, for the time being, live-streaming is IT and they should consider these performances on par with club and concert dates and pay the musicians accordingly.”

The free site is partially supported by voluntary subscription and since the Shutdown the site has been sharing its revenue from that source with direct payments to musicians.

“We don’t call the money “grants.” I don’t like the word “support” either. It’s payment for professional services rendered and value received. I’d like fans to think that way too. When you go to a club, concert or festival, you pay. Let’s use that mind set for live-streams and pay for these performances the same way.”


– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube

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