When a blowup over a silly marketing campaign is more than just a blowup over a silly marketing campaign.
Don't get me wrong: That blowup earlier this week over a Jazz At Five marketing campaign is easy to dismiss as a tempest in a teapot. But I love a good tempest in a teapot, and Madison musicians' distaste for the silly/somewhat offensive "Jazzcat" campaign highlighted deeper disconnects in Madison's cultural landscape.
And when I say "disconnects," I don't just mean people having different tastes or disagreeing over the details of how to promote something. I mean that people here seem to be at odds over fundamental questions of how art and music should function in our community. Are musicians getting paid enough? Are the people organizing long-established local events like Jazz At Five doing enough to reach out to real audiences and make sure that musicians feel respected? Are too many people and institutions adrift or stuck in an old way of doing things? Is everyone doing enough to contribute to a broader goal, rather than just ensure the success of their own endeavors? These are important questions, and this seemingly trivial marketing effort stirred up more discussion about all of them.
On this week's podcast, Dylan Brogan (our wonderful audio producer and also a staff writer for Isthmus) joined me to discuss the brief saga of Jazzcat and why people should care about it. Listen to our conversation below.