Rhythm Changes is the website for jazz in Vancouver, BC. We are a home for creative, improvising, local music people.
Established in 2020 by Will Chernoff, we provide the newest, fastest-growing media outlet for our creative music scene. The mission of Rhythm Changes is to make it more fun and easier to participate in this scene.
Become a member for free today.
"very cool" - Coastal Jazz & Blues Society
"stepping up to spread the word about great music" - Nou Dadoun
The 3 parts of this website
- The gig list for Vancouver jazz and related live music, freshly published each month. We proudly carry the endorsement of vancouverjazz.com as the successor to the long-running A-Trane Calendar.
- The free weekly article that gives you a great artist, event, or recording to enjoy and share – and delivers you the week's upcoming Vancouver jazz gigs from the gig list.
- The Update, where paying subscribers get an in-depth column from me on Fridays. If you enjoy my writing, you will love the Rhythm Changes Update.
"Cool site for great reads" - Sammy Stein, author
"Fascinating approach" - Charles Marohn, Strong Towns
I've made music in Vancouver, BC since my youth. I launched Rhythm Changes as a way to participate in, and aspirationally contribute to, the jazz scene that raised me.
My day job is at a small record label. Previously, I was in a band and worked at a non-profit arts organization, each for several years.
Here is a bio of me, if that's what you're looking for
Will Chernoff is among the Canadian jazz scene’s most active and visible young personalities. Will is best known as the proprietor and main author of Rhythm Changes, a Vancouver-based music website.
Will’s mix of writing, interviewing, and grassroots media promotions work has been credited with supporting a resurgence of live jazz in Vancouver in the wake of the pandemic. A bassist by trade, he has released two studio albums as a bandleader. He lives in New Westminster, BC.
How Rhythm Changes works
What do you write about?
To keep it simple, I'd say these are the three core topics:
- 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?
And here are some more in-depth topics:
- 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 article reviews a relevant album and also lists the local gigs, which gives her a recorded and live music option every week, sent right to her.
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?
I have done this occasionally; however I already have a written product, delivered on an ongoing basis, accessible to all from right here at Rhythm Changes.
How does being picked up by another outlet add to my work here? It doesn't, not directly at least.
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 media interests are here; my employment is 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.
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, no sponsorship of own music content. When I have local sponsors who may hold rights to the music covered on Rhythm Changes, 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. You could call this the Cellar clause, because it most obviously concerns them; I don't run Cory Weeds- or Cellar-related sponsorships on coverage of Cellar Music releases, and I have full editorial control over how I cover Cory and Cellar, with no pressure put on me.
- 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. Again, integrity! And keeping the editorial calendar moving.
- 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 gifts of material value from people I cover. My bar for this isn't firm but I'd say around $40 and up is uncomfortable.
- No coverage of my employer(s). Currently, my day job involves me providing services to an American music company. That's a nice fit with the Canadian-only coverage here at Rhythm Changes. I never write about my current employers but, of course, I have covered many previous Canadian clients and colleagues.
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.