"We're Jazzed You're Here" banner at the Louis Armstrong International Airport.

Is Jazz The Brand

As readers of OffBeat, OffBeat.com and the Weekly Beat know, New Orleans is a musical city. But—let’s say the CVB was going to use music to “brand” the city, what type of music or musicians would be most appropriate?

We know that every musician and band hates to be pigeon-holed or categorized into a particular type of music, but when it comes down to the dollars and cents, sense and demographics of the current market, and creating and sustaining different visitor markets (maybe younger and more hip?), how should we most effectively brand New Orleans as a music city?

Should we throw all of our eggs in the jazz basket? After all, jazz is the city’s gift to the world. But does the word “jazz” appeal to all the different sorts of people who may want to come to the city to experience our music and culture?

Will the Preservation Hall Jazz Band appeal to someone who’s more into pop/rock? Or Swamp Pop? Cajun or zydeco? (Bear with me: I certainly know that New Orleans holds no claim to Cajun and zydeco, but NOLA certainly is a gateway for visitors who want to experience it).

How about brass bands? Funk? Classic New Orleans R&B? Jam-fusion? Do those genres fall under “jazz”?

How do we convey that New Orleans is the most musical city on earth to people who kinda know that New Orleans has music but still don’t exactly know what they are going to hear. Should we stick with jazz?

If you’ve ever driven to the airport, I’m sure you’ve seen the welcome sign that says “We’re JAZZED you’re here!”

Should we continue with jazz or try something else? What do you think?

  • SunriseSam

    “Jazz” IS NOLA’s brand; it’s what makes it unique (in the music scene). Always stick with your heritage.

  • Steve Romick

    welcome to New Orleans. The Birthplace of American Music.

  • willowhaus

    It’s not really a bad thing to claim the birth of jazz – although the claim is over a century old now, and it really doesn’t speak to the multitude of musical styles practiced in NOLA (nor really to the various permutations of jazz that didn’t originate in the city).

    I think Dr. John said it best, in his autobiography: “Everything mingles each into the other… until nothing is purely itself but becomes part of one fonky gumbo.”

    NOLA: Home of the Fonky Gumbo…hmm…I kinda like that. 🙂

  • HolyNOLA

    Cover songs is the brand nowadays, even on beloved Frenchmen St. by “original” bands.

  • デカ (脱原発に一票)

    To the foreigner who respect for NOLA music culture, it seems that the Jazz is defined as the term of the origin of every kinds of American modern music.

  • Minger

    Must we continue to have this discussion in terms of “branding” New Orleans music. Catering to the tourism industry may be an economic necessity (and handled correctly, a way to spread a beautiful musical culture to an appreciative new audience) but there’s a fine line between promoting your culture and selling out. All this marketing language in these blogs seems more offbeat than OffBeat.