Rhythm Changes is the Canadian jazz blog based in Vancouver, BC, made since 2020 by Will Chernoff (me). Its tagline is "A home for creative, improvising, local music people".
"stepping up to spread the word about great music" - Nou Dadoun, Vancouver Co-Op Radio
"invaluable to local audiences" - Tim Reinert, The Infidels Jazz
"a great resource for the scene" - Cory Weeds, Cellar Music Group
The 3 parts of this website
- The gig list that helps you enjoy more Vancouver jazz and related live music. Published monthly, the list is used by thousands of people and is often referred to as the comprehensive source for what's happening in our community.
- The free weekly email, a fun and easy way to stay tuned-in to our music scene. Sent every Tuesday morning at 6:00 AM Pacific Time, it contains the week's upcoming events from the gig list and also features artists, events, or recordings for you to check out.
- The Update, where I write a column for paying subscribers on Fridays.
"[Will is] an indispensable contributor to Vancouver’s jazz scene" - Chris Wong, jazz journalist
"A great local service" - John Korsrud, Hard Rubber Orchestra
"Very cool" - Coastal Jazz & Blues Society
I was born and raised in New Westminster. A bit about my background:
- started out as a musician and still play live
- have a non-music day job; previously, I was in a folk band and worked at multiple non-profit arts organizations and record labels
- release my recorded work under the Chernoff Music label
How Rhythm Changes works
What do you write about?
- Who has released new music lately, and what's it like?
- Who's playing live right now, and what makes them interesting?
- Which upcoming events can I highlight?
- What are the solutions to the anxieties and challenges of this era of the music industry?
- What are certain musicians and personalities really good at, and why are those things important to their success?
- What makes a venue or live event series successful, and how do you start one – or grow one?
- What is the role of music, and the arts in general, in our social lives?
- What is the context (or the trajectory, or the history) of how well our scene is doing today?
Which people are you writing for?
Here's an example.
Imagine a 27-year-old who graduated from CapU in a handful of years, finally went to UBC's dual degree program afterward because no way am I touching the hot mess of how to play jazz for money, and is now a teacher-teaching-on-call while still hanging out with the lifelong musician friends they love.
How do I keep this in my life?
They can keep going to the same gigs they knew from their Cap years – those venues are still running, for now – and catch (their friends open for) Thundercat when he's in town, too.
Eventually, they get older and watch the vibe shift, with the action moving to newer venues and people they've never heard of. Their favourite spots feel a bit too dry now and was CapU even a positive experience for me anyway?
That's the story of how we lose a fan from our music scene for the next 40 years. To try and avoid that, I'm here to cover what's happening in an interesting way. Once a week (or more), they get a view of it. And then they can decide whether to actually leave the house again and be out there, in all the old familiar places.
Here's another one that's come to my attention:
There are big Vancouver jazz fans who don't live here anymore.
When they come back, they scan through their mutuals and the accounts they follow. What's going on in the scene for them to enjoy on a trip to Vancouver?
It takes time to find, and lots of stuff just doesn't get posted about until it's too late.
The gig list gives it to them at a glance on-demand for free.
Your audience is full of diehard Vancouver jazz fans. Don't they know more about it than you? If so, how/why do you write to them?
Here's an example.
Imagine a 68-year-old woman who's forgotten more jazz gigs than I've ever heard. The staff at Ironworks recognize her every year, because she needs the jazz community – to fulfill a core part of her identity.
She follows 150 musicians on Facebook, reads both the New Green Web-Magazine and the Old Altweekly, and does her best to stay on top of events and new releases.
But all the posts feel overwhelming, and the mags have lots of stuff she doesn’t care about. She only nails down one jazz event per month and doesn’t get around to checking out any new albums.
The free weekly email shows relevant albums to her and also lists the local gigs, so over the course of months she ends up checking out both the new recordings and live shows that are happening here, all from one place.
That's one possible example.
Many people contribute to your community as volunteers. Why do you charge money for the subscription?
Why not? It takes time to produce, and it appeals to certain people. I'm fortunate to have happy customers. I could identify many more reasons than this, but it's that simple.
As for volunteers in my community, I respect what they do and wouldn't begrudge any of them if they charged (more) for their effort. And of course, the way they're doing it right now is okay too, if it works for them!
What about writing for another website / outlet?
It's not a priority of mine. Being published by another outlet doesn't add anything to what I provide you with here. If the line of questioning is, "Are you writing here because you're working towards a writing gig at a well-known music publication? Maybe they'll hire you someday?" The answer is no. My professional interests are either in my own projects or in other parts of the music business.
Why did you decide to have paying subscribers?
I think a lot of music writers might have learned under the mass-market advertising model, which no longer works for music writing; and that the concept of mass-market in entertainment only was real in the 20th century. With no mass-market, everyone serves a niche, from the traditional music publications down to us.
And just because the Canadian Punctuation Mark-Magazine et al. still exist doesn't mean their business model works. There's such a thing as a lame duck, or playing out the clock as something winds down. Cost structures are a brutal reality.
The only thing that works for a media niche as small as ours, about jazz and creative music, is subscription. There’s no moment in the future when Rhythm Changes breaks through to a mass-market and advertising supports everything. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done as work! It just means that I keep it real when I develop the business model.
Okay, why should I become a paying subscriber anyway?
That's up to you. I love hearing from you after you subscribe, and reach out to share why you joined. Everyone has a different reason.
But maybe I can tell you some reasons why you shouldn't!
First, let's talk pricing. Anyone with a super-tight budget of what to spend on entertainment would be best off subscribing to other things. It's quite something that a music streaming app or any TV and movie streaming service can cost not-much-more than Rhythm Changes, and I could never compete with their volume of entertainment; so if you need the largest amount of stuff in return for your spend, please go ahead.
Second, how about supporting some artists first? I bet you've got some favourite artists in your life – that's probably why we're all here. Certainly you should buy some of their music and/or merch before you consider subscribing to an outlet that covers them.
And third, maybe you don't trust me to produce consistently. I write on a schedule for subscibers-only: what if I fail to deliver, what if most of it doesn't interest you? Don't blame you if you just don't know me that well yet.
Those are the biggest reasons I can think of why you shouldn't subscribe. Not swayed? Come on down!
Don't we all get too much email already?
No, I don't think so: we get too much bad email, unexpected email, disrespectful of the five 'W's email. When you subscribe, you know who it's from (me), what you're getting, when and where you're getting it, and why you chose to get it.
People actually don't have enough email like that. When we give them more of it, they'll be even happier to refuse the bad email.
Who are your paying subscribers?
Fans, Juno winners, touring performers, musicians in our scene with day jobs, presenters of local talent... and more fans! Although many of my paying subscribers are artists – because they find that my work can add value to their careers – others are non-musicians, and all are welcome. We have more non-artist subscribers than I had expected.
What is the cancellation policy / refund policy?
Cancellation policy: your subscription renews automatically until you cancel. After cancelling, you won't be charged again.
Refund policy: After you have been charged for a period (month or year), you cannot receive a refund for that period. However, you can cancel any time before the next charge.
Before Rhythm Changes, I worked in a variety of roles throughout the first 10 years of my music career, including making my own music. Integrity is important to me. Here's a breakdown of how I operate:
- No payment for coverage. I never charge artists to be covered and no-one can pay for influence over whom I cover, or what I say about anyone or anything.
- No editorial control for the subject. Though I sometimes explicitly clear speaking terms with people, making sure I know what's on-the-record and what isn't, I don't allow anyone I cover to sign-off on my content before publication.
- No editorial control for sponsors/subscribers, no sponsorship of own music content. When I have local sponsors who may hold rights to the music covered, I never run the sponsorships on content that features their music. And of course, the sponsors have no input on the coverage of their music. The same goes for paying subscribers: several presenters in the scene are subscribers to The Update, but they get no editorial control over anything I write.
- I don't ask for complimentary tickets in exchange for coverage. My policy for comps is basically, "Never ask, always accept." Otherwise, I buy my own admissions like anyone else.
- First-come, first-served editorial space. If I commit to coverage within my limited number of times to publish per week, I keep that commitment. Some coverage passes me by because of this system, and I accept that it's just how it goes.
- Your pre-release music is safe with me; I often need those links and files, but I'll never share them to the public.
- No editorial control for any current employer(s) or people hiring me on contracts. Rhythm Changes is an independent project, no matter whom I work with. I have covered many previous Canadian clients and colleagues, and I might work here or there with a musician who has been covered. That's how the cookie crumbles when you live so much of your life in a small local music scene.
Recordings and music sales
I don't aim to benefit from sales of the music I cover; the primary editorial goal is not to sell my own music. But sometimes, I might write about my own releases, songs, and events. I promise to add a disclosure when relevant. Also, I might promote my own upcoming projects in little bits throughout my content.
No links from Rhythm Changes to recordings, event tickets, or sponsors' products are affiliate links, which means I never earn any commission money when you go to gigs or buy music that you find here. All sponsors simply pay me a flat fee when they book their sponsorship.