Why Is Jazz So Unpopular? (9 Reasons Why)

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Freya Crawford

Freya Crawford is a self-confessed geek. She loves gaming, watching classic movies, and her guilty pleasure is trashy reality TV. She also enjoys collecting old NES and Gameboy games.

Jazz is a historic and distinctive genre of music that many people know and love. However, it is certainly not considered “mainstream” music and is rarely seen to top the charts.

If you are wondering why jazz music is considered unpopular by many people in the United States, you are not alone. Keep reading to learn more about why this genre does not appeal to everyone.

Why Is Jazz So Unpopular?

1. The Music Is Very Unique

Rather than the catchy riffs of pop tunes and other frequently listened-to music, jazz follows its own unique style. Jazz has distinctive patterns that are often improvised.

The improvisation is one of the things that keeps jazz fanatics hooked, but it can be hard to follow for someone who is not as keen on the genre.

Its musical unpredictability means that people may often struggle to memorize jazz tunes or even get them stuck in their head.

2. Instrumental Jazz Is Not For Everyone

Vocal jazz is often more popular because there are lyrics people can relate to and sing along to. However, instrumental jazz lacks this feature.

Though jazz musicians are incredibly talented, the instrumentality is not everyone’s idea of something to jam out to. People certainly might not find jazz to be catchy.

It can also be extremely difficult to remember certain instrumental jazz standards or songs if you are not familiar enough with the genre to recognize characteristics.

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3. People Do Not Like The Instruments

Because jazz relies heavily on instruments, this can often be a polarizing feature for those who listen to the genre.

Jazz often features the following instruments:

  • Trumpet
  • Bass
  • Piano
  • Drums
  • Saxophone

While some of these are mainstays across many genres of music, others may see certain instruments, particularly the trumpet or saxophone, as unpleasant to hear.

The tones of these particular instruments can at times be unsettling or even screechy if not played by a talented musician.

Those who have had a bad experience listening to jazz will probably attribute it to these instruments.

4. The Musicians Are Unfriendly

A lot of people connect to music when they can also feel an affinity for the artist who produces it. With jazz, musicians tend to live a more private life.

Even if they are well-known, many jazz musicians have controversial public lives or have dramatic relationships with other musicians within the genre.

For this reason, a lot of people struggle to relate to jazz professionals, and so the genre may come to lack some of the star-powered allure that other styles of music have.

5. People Do Not Understand The History

People Do Not Understand The History

Jazz has been an incredibly influential musical genre, especially in the United States. It has shaped certain cities, such as New York and Chicago, and changed music history permanently.

Although this history is undeniable and known by many jazz fans, the average person may not know the true cultural influence that this style has had on the world and other music genres.

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For this reason, when people listen to jazz and do not know the background, they may struggle to have the full experience and appreciation for the genre.

Jazz history is not frequently taught in everyday music classes or public schools, so it makes sense that people would not be familiar with its uniqueness.

6. It Is Seen As Outdated

Jazz certainly exists today, and there are many pioneering jazz musicians modernizing the genre. However, public consensus is that it is for older generations.

This could be because jazz was very popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s and lost some of its momentum later in the 21st century.

Nowadays, especially in the younger generations, people could see jazz as something that their grandparents listen to, rather than an innovative genre.

7. The Clubs Are Expensive

One of the most popular ways to listen to jazz is in a club, and these can be very costly. In addition to drinks, these often charge a steep entry fee to pay musicians.

Although visiting these clubs can be an amazing way to learn more about the genre, the costs can be prohibitive for those with a limited budget.

8. The Music Is Very Technical

For aspiring musicians, jazz may seem like an impossible hill to climb. This is because the music is very technical and requires a lot of expertise to perfect.

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For those starting out in music, they may turn away from jazz because it seems much more difficult than other genres to pick up. This could reduce its popularity among young musicians.

9. It Is Polarizing

The final reason is that jazz can be considered extremely polarizing, which is to say people either love it or they hate it.

This means that radios are not as willing to play jazz because they are not sure how people will react to the music and they want to appeal to the masses.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why pop music is so popular, why K-pop is so popular, and why country music is so popular.


In short, jazz is a genre that many people have strong opinions about. There are several reasons why jazz lags far behind pop or rock in terms of popularity.

If people want to like jazz more, it can be helpful to learn about its extensive history or listen to vocal jazz to break into the genre.


  • Freya Crawford

    Freya Crawford is a self-confessed geek. She loves gaming, watching classic movies, and her guilty pleasure is trashy reality TV. She also enjoys collecting old NES and Gameboy games.

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