Jazz and the power of unpopular

No one knows when jazz music was "invented".

Some historians say that Jazz was born in New Orleans in 1895, when Buddy Bolden formed his first band.

Others say it was born in 1917 when Nick LaRocca and his Original Dixieland Jass Band recorded their first record,"Livery Stable Blues".

The truth is, in the early 1920s Jazz started spreading across America. The reason? Jazz was different. It broke the rules.

Musically speaking, jazz was groundbreaking. Most people in America had never heard anything like it before.

Socially speaking, jazz broke barriers. Jazz had its origins in black culture, but became extremely popular with white college fraternities.

All this made jazz controversial and unpopular in America.

The word jazz also had a sexual connotation. And many parents started calling jazz "the devil's music."

In 1921, the town of Zion (Illinois) banned jazz for being "sinful". A record shop in New York was fined for playing jazz when a funeral passed.

The New York Times ran a story about jazz records and called jazz, music "from the African Jungle". And music that was producing "the final disintegration of American morals".

Jazz wasn't popular at the time, but it was successful. It was unpopular with all of the right people - the ones who would never understand it anyway. And popular with the ones who were open-minded to embrace its weird rhythms.

Then in the 1950s, jazz became mainstream.

In the business world we’ve been all so enchanted with this silly idea that popular = good and that unpopular = bad.

And we are all so conditioned by this "winner take all" culture that we forgot the basics of marketing: To build a successful brand, just like jazz, it all starts with capturing a minority of people whose tastes align with ours.

Your pal,


Miguel Ferreira
Founder & Chief Copywriter, Teardwn + Nishi


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