Rising numbers of younger fans spark a UK jazz renaissance

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Streaming sites report that there is growth in young listeners and festivals signing up more jazz acts.

From clubs in the Weimar republic to smoky US bars, jazz has become popular all around the world, with its heyday almost a century ago. However, in a tiny converted railway arch in London, a weekly jazz night has been the hub for a new flourishing scene in the UK.

Steam Down in Deptford has been hosting an increasing number of British artists. Their presence along with the rise of streaming sites is triggering a spike in appreciation for jazz in the UK. There are visible signs of that surge in interest across the music business, with mainstream artists collaborating with jazz stars, streaming websites reporting growth in young listeners, and big music festivals signing up more jazz acts.

When it started, Steam Down saw only about a dozen people walk through the doors. Following its second anniversary, Ahnansé, who set up the night, said that it has been at capacity for the last six months.

The streaming site Spotify showed that about 40 percent of jazz listening on it is from people under 30, with the percentage steadily holding since 2014. It reported that listeners of jazz in this age group have risen every year since 2016.

Deezer, another streaming site, said that there has been a 15 percent increase in 18 to 25-year-olds streaming jazz from June 2018 to June 2019, with that age group seeing the biggest increase. In addition, Deezer’s Chill Jazz playlist also has had a 555 percent increase in streams in Britain in the last twelve months.

The jazz renaissance is being reflected in festivals as well as ticket sales, with British jazz heavily featuring in the Glastonbury line-up of this year. A lot of new jazz festivals such as DJ Gilles Peterson’s We Out Here festival in Huntingdon have appeared this year, too.