Selling the Claudias

There’s quite the promotional blitz around Royal Toast, the new Claudia Quintet album. The whole thing was listenable on NPR for a time, and there’s a snappy promotional video as well.

Cool stuff. The Web has opened up a lot of interesting promotional possibilities for the arts.

Now, I don’t happen to buy the “long tail” theory. Or, rather, I believe it’s come to espouse a ill-informed and narrow perspective — most people, when they say “long tail,” are talking about the first Die Hard movie, or Aimee Mann albums, or regular jazz. In other words, mainstream properties that just aren’t top-of-mind for the people who watch network TV. Free improvised music? That’s not even on the “experts'” radar, and Amazon’s existence hasn’t turned the genre into a gold mine.

Still — could Internet technologies help truly obscure, creative musics find their audience? Absolutely. The availability of legal downloading options, and the Web’s ability to let artists share music quickly, certainly helps. I’m not ungrateful for the Web, and I do think it opens possibilities for even the newest of musicians. It’s just that the digerati, when preaching the miracles of Web marketing, aren’t seeing the far corners of the music world.

My thoughts are misplaced here, though, because I think the Claudia Quintet could very easily find an audience among jazz fans and even some adventuresome indie-rock types. So, shelve everything I just said, and wish John Hollenbeck, Cuneiform, & Co. well with Royal Toast.