Is believing absolutely in the power of playlists as a conduit to jazz discovery really the answer?
The question in the headline above is on a topic that needs addressing.
Playlists, the popular ones are on sites such as Spotify and Apple, are one entry point to new jazz. Sometimes DJs also publish their playlists.
If you are a playlist person especially currently when “singles” are everywhere you may also be somehow residually an “album” sort. However, given the direction of travel at the moment and the lack of time that most people possess which often proves insufficient to keep up with new jazz and proves a struggle even to wade a little in the water, the chances are your “album” side is less evident than your playlist dominant routine preference.
Looking at playlists, some of these are very long indeed and tell very little about anything out of context. Only a few are actually full of brand new releases. Some contain tracks that have been around for months. Above all they are marketing driven however curated.
Do we listeners want to listen to something that is commercially popular? Sometimes but not always, may well be one response.
To flip that on its head if something fails to sell do we want to listen to something unpopular? Sometimes but not always is also a possible response in all likelihood.
Crucially jazz listeners need a complete album to listen to for the full story. Playlists, basically compilations put together for consumer or social, mood, lifestyle, channel, entertainment reasons, do not offer this ability.
The answer then to the headline is “not really”. The question needs asking however and returning to as tech continues to change and playlists continue to be an important factor in the route to jazz listening and developing a love and knowledge of the music. They are, however, far from reliable be-all and end-alls in other words.