It’s CRAZY how locked-in I was in fall 2020

In early September 2020, I appeared on a now-inactive podcast called Music on Your Own Terms with US-based host Simon Pellett. At almost four years out, what I notice about the timing of that episode is:

  • Rhythm Changes existed, but only barely! I had been writing on Substack for about two months to less than 100 readers; there was no gig list and the subject matter was music industry affairs, not the local jazz scene
  • I hadn't ever recorded a podcast episode nor produced any audio
  • Aim to Stay was finished and had a publicity campaign going, but it hadn't been released yet
  • I still felt alienated from the jazz community and was in the throes of wanting to participate again, which I often describe when telling RC's origin story

I recently found my transcript of this podcast episode when organizing files on my hard drive. Thank-you to my friend Victoria Cowan for editing and archiving this transcription.

At time 24:42, Simon sets me up to absolutely lock-in on envisioning what I'd attempt at RC over the next four years. I underlined two passages below that I find particularly uncanny: one because of how closely it matches what RC is today, and the other because it's still the same goal I think about every day.

Check it out:

SIMON PELLETT: You want to do a podcast yourself at some point. Do you have a timeline or is that still just like an idea? And what would it be about if you did?

WILLIAM CHERNOFF: That's very timely because I'm definitely waiting until after I finish this album campaign to get that going, but this will be an interesting time right now to reflect on what that would be about.

One of the things that I started doing in the last month or two was I started setting up to do "Canadian jazz independent journalism," for lack of a better word. Again, it's a green field for me, something I don't have a background in, but something I'm excited to explore because I would look for it and find that there isn't much going on in that space. There's a lot of room for even one person to come in and start covering the projects that musicians are doing here, the gigs that they're doing here, interviewing them.

I would eat all of that up if I knew where it was, but I just suspect that there's not much of it going on. Why? I think it's because all the most active people in the Canadian jazz network are both fully committed musicians and educators, and so there's no time left for them to add this other layer to it, even though they would be the most eminently qualified people to report on what's going on either in their local jazz community or in the Canadian jazz community. But I think because I'm not an educator and because I'm not an out-and-out professional musician, this would be an interesting place for me to explore because I really would want to read it if it was there, and I notice it's not there, so I might as well try.

So to that end, in July, at the beginning of the month, I started publishing some writing every week, so I've been writing most days. Hopefully I'll get an everyday habit in my life eventually. But so far I've been scrambling together to publish thoughts every week on how music commerce is changing and how we should change it if we want to make it better and how independent artists are the way going forward and what we've known as the music industry either doesn't exist or is being propped up or doesn't match the current conditions so much in the experience I've had so far in my own career. So I've been writing about that and I'm building towards interviewing people about that as well as I find people who are willing to engage with me on the record about it here in Canada.

Once I become skilled enough to write a little bit more often and a little bit more consistently, then I can cover things, like the gigs that are going on in my local community. I can cover projects that my friends are releasing or that they're working on in some cases, if I have some exclusive knowledge of that. Maybe there's a way that we can share it.

But I think that Canadian jazz journalism is such a niche thing that it would benefit a lot from a resource or a publication where musicians felt confident that they would get covered well, which sounds really simple, but it's not really because when you're trying to publicize a release campaign for your music, if you have existing press contacts, that's great because you have a relationship with them and you know what to expect. But if you don't, either you're paying a lot of money for uncertain results or you're reaching out to people for very uncertain results, and you're not sure how they will cover your music because either their coverage is infrequent or it's very frequent but it's very low resolution, so they don't write about very much that's actually interesting.

I think that might be one of the reasons why music blogs have not been as influential as the aggregation of online media has continued. I could still imagine a parallel universe where prominent music blogs continued to write really high quality content and those aggregators have continued to give them a prominent spot, but it does kind of seem like they vanished. I am by no means ripping on every music blog writer out there. There's a lot of great ones. But the mixture of, *is it high quality writing? Is it relevant to a very niche group of people?* and *is it consistent?* is really hard. I'm curious how hard it will be for me as I'm exploring that and hopefully some other people start doing it, too.

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