We live in a free society. I'm not talking about our civil liberties, which are precious, of course. I mean that increasingly, companies expect us to do things for nothing. [Pictured above: Chair Over Point Wisconsin by Ruth Thorne-Thomsen, 1983]
Musicians have experienced the free world for years. Most jazz clubs pay talent 1990s wages because their costs have gone up, profit margins are tight and they know musicians love what they do and won't put up too much of a fuss. We all know musicians who play for free just to perform in front of an audience.
We're a little guilty, too. Ever since burning CDs began in 2002 followed by the introduction of the flashdrive, we've come to think of recorded music as being free. And YouTube, with its many audio clips of records spinning on a turntable, has turned the democratic video service into the world's greatest audio jukebox.
So a free lunch has become a national mindset. The latest manifestation of this "why pay?" culture is the customer survey. Thanks to the internet, companies have found a way around multimillion-dollar focus groups—where participants are paid and fed to give their views so that companies can figure out the best way to market their products.
Now, whether you've rented a car, ordered a book or used a washroom, you can expect an email from the service provider asking you to complete a survey on your happiness or dissatisfaction. These surveys are often positioned as a way for the company to ensure that the service you receive from companies rolling forward will improve.
The truth is that service never really changes. What stinks continues to stink, and what's great stays great—largely because of management priorities and employee motivation. There are reasons why most phone companies provide lousy service and GoDaddy has phenomenal service.
Personally, I always skip completing these surveys. My feeling is if my opinion is valuable, you probably should at least offer to discount my next purchase. And if the value of my opinion is zero, then zero is the number of opinions you'll receive. Hey, I'm sorry. Time is money. Besides, if companies cared in the first place, the service would be great and they wouldn't have to ask for free advice.
Coleman Hawkins and Teddy Wilson radio. WKCR in New York will hold its annual Coleman Hawkins Birthday Celebration by broadcasting the Hawk's music for 24 hours on Wednesday, November 21... Then WKCR will celebrate Teddy Wilson for four straight days—starting on Thanksgiving and ending on November 25. You can tune in anywhere in the world on your computer by going here.
Jessica Ferber, still going strong. Last week I posted about Jessica Ferber, who has a Kickstarter fund-drive going to raise enough money to product a book of jazz photographs by the late Robert James Campbell. She's closing in on her goal. If you haven't see her video, here it is...
Good Vibrations. Footage from the 1966 Beach Boys recording session and interviews with those who were there. Go here.
Oddball album cover of the week.