[note from Matt: I’m handing over to my booking agency colleague & Jazzfuel social media expert Maggie for this Q&A with Jazzfest Brno artistic director Vilem Spilka. She’s based in Prague and knows today’s guest – Vilem – well. Over to you Maggie..!]
I’ve known Vilém for a few years now and he’s always been this mad…in a good way!
I remember seeing him give a lecture at a conference for music managers and he was explaining the role of a music manager using a huge picture of a Czech literary and comic character “Ferda the Ant”. Ferda is the type of guy who always sorts everything out and, whatever he thinks of, finds a way to make it happen.
Ladies and gentlemen: Vilém Spilka is Ferda the Ant in real life!
Before you check the full Q&A, here are a few particularly great pieces of advice that you shouldn’t overlook:
> Find a “style of communication” with your fans on your social media
> He admits he spends a lot of time on social media (like most of us!) – so make sure your presentation on them is top notch, share inspiring stuff
> For his festivals future he searches for “Having even more unknown, but fabulous artists in the program” – doesn’t it sound like a great challenge for you?!
Programming a huge jazz festival like yours must be super awesome but I can’t imagine myself picking only a few lucky bands amongst all of the others to perform there. What is your programming recipe?
My recipe, hmm. I don’t know if there is one, but I guess our festival is made of a nice blend of what is being offered to me, what I initiate or strive for and what is necessary for the festival to survive. I do like to put together special projects, however, I also like to feature working bands which usually have a special chemistry.
Where do you discover new artists? Do you go to showcase events?
I do go, mostly to see the bands live. The APAP in New York is a good one as well as the JazzAhead in Bremen. There are many more, WOMEX etc, a lot of them collide with our own events and concerts, so I have to be careful while picking the right one.
What do you think a successful showcase concert should look like and how should the band prepare for it?
It should be quite short, with strong choice of tunes, not too much talking, but definitely some commentary. The band should approach it as any other concert, just not expecting as warm a reception as usual and with a number of people leaving the auditorium during the set. A special preparation may turn out as a burden: just play as you are used to.
My favourite question now: do you read all email offers you receive and listen to the music from them?
Not all of them of course, but I do read most of them and listen to the music fairly often. I don’t respond to many, but I hope those who send the offers understand that I don’t have the capacity to keep conversations with so many people.
Would you invite to your festival a totally unknown foreign band you accidentally found, which plays GREAT music but does almost zero PR activities around them?
I suppose I would if their fee was reasonable and they were willing to cooperate on the PR activities we would line up. Our concert format often is a double bill, so we can use the headliner to expose the “opening act” to more listeners.
You teach Music Management to jazz students at the Janáček Academy of Music. Can you tell us a bit about what this involves?
I try to be practical.
I make them create a Facebook page and website, help with finding a “style of communication” with their fans, put together a rider and stage plan, an EPK, an email offer, have them make some recording and a live video and convince them to continue with a follow up, knowing that doing those things I listed above is just a start. Soft skills (how you interact personally with people) are an important part of it, so we touch up on those as well.
What is the most important piece of advice you think they should remember when trying to reach promoters?
Don’t push too hard.
When programming a festival it’s important to stay up to date to the jazz scene. How do you do this?
I get a lot of info on Facebook and YouTube, I have to say. Many of my favourite musicians post some inspiring stuff. I read some blogs and magazines. But most importantly I talk to fellow musicians and music lovers, who all have their favourite artists and types of music.
You’ve already had the biggest heavyweights at the jazz festival in Brno (Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Brad Mehldau). How can a festival like this still develop?
Perhaps we can create even more creative opportunities for these superb musicians. It is often hard, knowing that their schedules are so full. Artist residencies come to mind as well. Having even more unknown, but fabulous artists in the program would be nice. And continuous fine tuning of our production skills will not hurt either.
Thanks to Maggie for putting this together and to Vilem for his time and thoughts on these questions!
Find out more about Vilem’s various jazz work…
In the last 15 years, Jazzfest Brno (where Vilem is artistic director) has hosted concerts with over 100 Grammy-nominated jazz musicians and reaches an annual audience of around 15,000 people across 25 venues. You can find out more on Twitter & Facebook too.
Vilem is Head of Jazz at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno where he runs courses on important non-playing areas of jazz (business, management, career-building), as well as overseeing the practical side.
Vilem plays guitar and is active on the jazz scene with his quartet which you can discover here.
Dave Douglas is a trumpeter, composer and educator with more than 50 recordings as a leader, including projects with Joe Lovano (Sound Prints), Uri Caine (Present Joys) & Mark Guiliana (High Risk).
He founded his own label – Greenleaf Records – in 2005 to release both his own projects and those of other musicians. All this, on top of a busy international touring schedule – saw Frank Alkyer – publisher of Down Beat – hail him as “the unassuming king of independent jazz, a model of do-it-yourself moxie, initiative and artistic freedom.”
In a [jazz] world where musicians are increasingly needing to take careers into their own hands, I wanted to dig deeper on Dave’s work and outlook on the scene.
The full interview is below, but here are 3 key takeaways:
1. It’s up to you – as a musician – to construct a platform for your music. It’s always been this way (but there are more opportunities today)
2. On embracing new ideas and strategies: “anything that allows you as an artist to think more freely and creatively about the medium of your work is a positive”
3. When trying to book gigs, be resourceful and diversify. And never forget that the music is the most important thing
Over the years you’ve released various albums in tribute to, or inspired by, other musicians and even films. Do these type of projects help reach a wider audience than purely releasing originals albums?
Thanks for your interest!
I’m aware that this is a music business oriented site and I will contextualize in that direction, but it’s important to remember as a musician all of my decisions are guided towards the service of music.
To answer this first question: It might surprise you to learn that I consider these to be purely original albums. To celebrate Mary Lou Williams, Booker Little, Joni Mitchell or Fatty Arbuckle is a way of reflecting on why I believe their work is still important to us today.
The idea is to reflect, through one’s own work, on the significance and weight of an artist or object. I think it is also important to contextualize music by illuminating one’s heroes and inspirations.
As a touring artist, do you engage publicists in key territories to build this, or you rely on the promoters doing a good job with local press?
The idea of having an umbrella music company like Greenleaf Music is to have all the activities be a part of what we do.
So we collaborate as we travel around the globe performing and giving residencies and other live appearances.
Sometime it’s just as much about amplifying activities back home. It’s important to work closely with all players to make the awareness of this music shine. A holistic approach.
How has the response to live albums differed from that of studio albums? Would you recommend younger bands to explore this route, especially if budgets are tight?
I only release a record when I feel it is the right music, the right band, and the right recording environment. Whether it is live or not is only one consideration.
Bray Jazz Festival was a really special concert for us, and I was delighted when I heard the quality of the recordings. Hence, ‘Moonshine.’ The only thing I would say to ‘younger bands,’ or indeed any band, is — make your absolute best music and stand by it.
Dave Douglas & Keystone - A noise from the deep - YouTube
What’s the most important ‘career’ thing you’ve learnt from your earlier days performing with older jazz stars?
Just for the record, I still work with ‘older jazz stars,’ and hope to become one myself! Some days I already feel like one! Hahaha.
Commitment to the presentation of the music: that would be the quality that I have admired most and observed most often in musicians I worked with. Nothing can get in the way of a true pursuit of artistic vision. Anything else is bullshit. Pardon my french.
Really interesting idea to record and release a live set within 24 hours! Do you see jazz in general moving away from the traditional 12-18 month release cycles to a more on-demand or single-based model?
I feel that any innovative release ideas open creative doors for musicians. They have for me. So I think anything that allows artists to think more freely and creatively about the medium of their work is a positive, and will be adopted by brilliant musicians, now and in the future.
There seems to be a real community around the Greenleaf label, with the subscription series (12+ hours of exclusive, free music), podcast and newsletters. Could (and should) emerging musicians build a similar vibe around their project?
It’s up to each musician to find out how to construct a platform for their music. It’s never been any different. Maybe there are more opportunities in this regard now. But it’s changing so fast. And a lot of the vision of how the music ecosystem works today has nothing to do with music. Everyone is inventing the new reality.
From all the great musicians out there, what makes a specific artist of interest for Greenleaf?
The hardest thing is saying ‘no!’
There so many great, deserving new jazz artists, and I often find myself advising them to create a platform for themselves. Greenleaf Music is not a huge company. Also it’s an umbrella for touring, sheet music, podcasting, and various different kinds of releases. We can’t take on too many artists without capsizing the ship.
Before Greenleaf you were releasing with RCA, a well-established label. What made you decide to set up on your own?
The situation arrived where I would have had to change my artistic vision to stay on RCA.
I had a good run of releasing different recordings documenting different areas of my work. That was changing as the industry consolidated into fewer and fewer hands.
Coincidentally, I had been talking to Michael Friedman of Premonition about starting a sustainable, self-sufficient music company of my own. It all happened at the same time, in 2004 – 2005. The vast importance of the internet only came into play in succeeding years. That helped shape our nimble, close-to-the-ground work with releases and artists over these years.
The sheer number of projects you have presented is pretty amazing. Would you recommend a similar concept for newer artists, or should they focus on building their name with one project early on?
I would only recommend that an artist do what is appropriate to his or her vision. I didn’t compose and present these many different musical projects as a ‘business plan.’
It has been suited to my outlook and my pace of working and completing art. Art speaks differently to each artist and they will find their strength by working persistently and steadily over a number of years.
Finances aside, do you see benefits of having your music on Spotify (such as winning new fans or reaching promoters?)
I am torn about Spotify. The whole meaning of the industry is in such flux that self-reliance seems to be the only eternal verity.
Greenleaf seems to go much further than just releasing music from its artists. Do you advise or help with other areas of their careers too?
I do talk to the artists on Greenleaf. Especially if they have questions or are looking for input, I am always happy to discuss the work with them. Greenleaf Music is a platform for artists to create their own world, and for me to grow a sustainable home for my own music.
Have you booked your own gigs at any point in your career and, if so, what would be your #1 tip to a jazz musician who is trying to get onto the international scene?
Be resourceful and diversify. And never forget that the music is the most important thing.
Thanks to Dave for taking the time to answer these questions!
More About Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas is a prolific trumpeter, composer, educator and entrepreneur from New York City known for the stylistic breadth of his work and for keeping a diverse set of ensembles and projects active simultaneously.
His unique contributions to improvised music have garnered distinguished recognition, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Aaron Copland award, and two GRAMMY® nominations. While his career spans more than 40 recordings as a leader, his active projects include his Quintet; Sound Prints, a quintet co-led with saxophonist Joe Lovano; Riverside, a quartet co-led with Chet Doxas; a duo with pianist Uri Caine; and, debuting in 2015, High Risk, an electronic music-influenced quartet with Mark Guiliana, Jonathan Maron and Shigeto.
Since 2005, Douglas has operated his own record label, Greenleaf Music, releasing his own recordings as well as albums by other artists in the jazz idiom. Through his artist-friendly approach and innovative practices, he continues to prove himself a pioneer among artist-run labels.
Douglas has held several posts as an educator and continues to be very active as a director and programmer. He was been named the Artistic Director for the 2016 season of the Bergamo Jazz Festival, which occurs every year in March. Starting in 2012, Douglas was engaged for two years as International Jazz Artist in Residence at the Royal Academy of Music in London and launched his own Jazz Workshop, dedicated to enriching the musical experiences of younger players.
From 2002 to 2012, he served as artistic director of the Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music at The Banff Centre in Canada. He is a co-founder and director of the Festival of New Trumpet Music, which was founded in 2002 to support new music by a diverse community of trumpet and brass players. He also co-hosts, with Michael Bates, a podcast called Noise From the Deep which was named the top jazz podcast by the JazzTimes critics poll in 2014.
“Dave Douglas is the unassuming king of independent jazz, a model of do-it-yourself moxie, initiative and artistic freedom.” – Frank Alkyer, Publisher, Down Beat
News & Upcoming Tour Dates
Dave’s latest album will be released on 20th Oct. You can find all info about the upcoming tourdates to accompany this right here.
Michael Fagien founded leading US jazz magazine Jazziz in 1983 and has been involved with the jazz industry ever since, both through publishing and other music-related ventures including record labels and venues.
I was introduced to Michael when I worked in the agency department of Jamie Cullum’s management company. Jazziz Magazine had been strong supporters of Jamie early on and I wanted to introduce Michael to the singer-pianist Anthony Strong who I manage.
I’ve e-met various people on the Jazziz team since then and it’s a great mix of good jazz & good business – something I think every musician should aim to replicate!
As someone who’s been in the industry for 30+ years, Michael has worked on various roles in various projects, and I wanted to touch on a few of these in this Q&A with the goal of giving you some ideas on how you can grow your own project as a musician.
The full interview is below, but here are 3 key takeaways
1. My favourite quote of the summer and something every musician would do well to bear in mind when planning to approach the press with your new music:
“A new release is not by itself a story”
That’s not to take the importance of attention away from your record, but to push you to pull out the other stories and information that will make promoters listen, get journalists to give you publicity and draw jazz fans into your project.
2. Sure, Jazziz is a magazine and you’re a musician, but here’s one thing they do that you should be copying EXACTLY:
“When someone simply clicks on our home page, since we don’t know who they are, we offer them free access to content when they sign up and give us a little information about themselves”
3. A simple way to turn $500 into $2500 worth of advertising…
How important is a new artists’ digital presence (social media especially) when trying to get covered by big magazines? Does a strong profile give confidence even when there is no history?
I can only speak for JAZZIZ, but whether or not there is a digital or analog presence, there are essentially two basic criteria my editors look for before covering an artist, musician or ensemble – and they are equally important.
One criteria depends on whether there is a story “behind the music”. As we say all the time, “A new release is not by itself a story.” But it might warrant a review because that falls in the other criteria, that being; Does the music speak to our audience?
We don’t simply rely on whether the music or album is something that one critic likes or dislikes, but more important, if it’s an album that our editors feel our readers should know about because it will be a worthy (or unworthy) addition to their jazz vocabulary.
A lot of DIY artists underestimate the potential of online advertising for reaching a bigger audience. What sort of figures does Jazziz do in terms of online reach? Should artists be utilizing the power of data more?
We’re less interested in website traffic alone (as most people scour the web for “free stuff”) and more interested in people who are interested in music (and willing to pay for it).
So our key reach indicator, digitally, takes place through our opt-in weekly newsletters, to 70,000 readers each week, where we offer fresh content between our monthly digital and quarterly print issues.
When someone simply clicks on our home page, since we don’t know who they are, we offer them free access to content when they sign up and give us a little information about themselves. We collect this data so that we can target customers with the content that would be more interesting to them. So yes, this is the kind of data that artists should be using.
I read once that Jazziz is known for covering the “stories behind the music” – how important do you think it is for the hundreds of jazz college graduates each year to think about their ‘story’ as well as the notes they play?
Everyone has a story, more or less. It’s more about how one frames it. Sometimes, musicians don’t think they have a story or an angle when in fact their life is a long story. The magic is how to condense it into a short one that someone would want to read.
Do you think independent musicians could/should be more proactive in looking for collaborations outside of music to reach a bigger audience?
This is demographic-versus genre-specific marketing. When I started my jazz label with Lee Ritenour and Mark Wexler, we made it a point to use some of the similar marketing techniques at JAZZIZ and to work with companies outside of the music business; ones with similarly targeted demographics who appreciate how jazz reaches their target audience and then figure out to position jazz to their existing customers.
By working companies like Barnies Coffee and Tea and DoubleTree/Hilton Hotels, our first jazz album, called A Twist of Jobim, became the biggest selling jazz album that year.
Most jazz magazines (including yours) have a strong digital presence these days; namely a website and Facebook. Could new independent musicians be using this to reach a bigger audience, in a way that they maybe couldn’t with more expensive print advertising?
On one hand, “digital presence” (FB likes, web stats, etc) has proven not to be reliable; and not surprisingly have resulted into lacklustre sales in general and definitely hasn’t worked out well for independent musicians.
On the other hand, most jazz magazines don’t have enough print distribution with a critical mass to make print ads work to promote new releases.
As a result, most jazz magazines position their digital presence most diligently, if not aggressively, vying for ad dollars from independent musicians and labels. By doing so, they function more like trade magazines where the advertisers (which are by definition from same trade/industry as the content they present) are the priority customers for those magazines and selling ads is their business model.
Our approach has been about acquiring paid subscribers with a reader-centric model creating a product that people would be willing to pay for (as opposed to ad-driven business model). As a result we are an “influencer” which also helps to synergize our digital presence.
Currently, our print distribution and sales in North America is much larger than every other jazz magazine. That’s not hype generated from our ad sales team, it’s direct data from our distributor, Curtis Circulation, who distributes all three US-based magazines.
Our position required a very substantial investment at retail and newsstand in order to reach a critical mass but we’ve done so because the success of our subscription-based model depends on constantly acquiring new paid readers/subscribers. In this scenario, our advertisers benefit from our continued growth of new paying customers.
You present multiple Jazziz discs each year. How do you and/or your team decide which new artists get a space?
It’s a combination of the editor’s recommendations from editorial coverage in the same issue and selection of tracks from new and advertised releases. With our reader/user-centric model, putting our readers/customers first, there are times where we reject advertiser’s tracks when we feel they would not be of interest to our readers.
After years of reading interview/review requests from jazz musicians, what’s your biggest piece of advice to a musician when they are writing an email or press release?
Email the managing editor:
a publishable quality photo
a very short “elevator pitch” with a great quote
what you feel are the most targeted tracks for the magazine’s readership.
If you’d just graduated from a top music college and had a budget of $500 to promote your first album, what would be top of your to-do list?
Self-servingly, I would call someone at JAZZIZ and ask how to take that 500 bucks and turn it into $2500 worth of marketing.
Really, we don’t want to take musician’s ad dollars; we want to help them promote their new album and often that requires creativity beyond ad placement.
In terms of building a fanbase, what can musicians learn and apply from the way magazines such as Jazziz have evolved over the last few years?
Building a customer database is something that we’ve been doing for 35 years and our experience has taught us that this can be done in a number of ways.
When I owned a label in the Verve Group, I sat in a marketing meeting and posed a question to the group; “Do we know who our customers are?” The head of Verve began spewing demographics, which seemed more like a target market summary and it didn’t answer my question which was in other words, “If we wanted to communicate with our customers today, can we cost-effectively reach out to them?”
The answer was obviously “no” and from there we created one of our first “data driven” marketing initiative whereby in every Verve CD there was a business reply card (BRC) offering a JAZZIZ magazine and CD for filling out the BRC card and mailing it in.
The results yielded large artist/album customer lists that could be used to communicate with fans, sell music, merch and tickets, while at the same time the magazine was acquiring a continuous influx of new subscribers.
This method worked because we’re offering value to the consumer for taking the time to fill out a card giving us some information about themselves and that value requires large investment in time, resources and money. When we add up the cost to JAZZIZ for designing printing and shipping the cards to each label’s CD plant, entering the information from cards sent in into our database and fulfilling the product (manufacturing and shipping magazine/CDs to each customer), we’ve spent millions acquiring our database but as it turns out it’s a great customer base of people that are interested in music and willing to pay for it.
Today, we have a dozen or more programs like taking place simultaneously in North American and in other territories around the world.
You’re on the board of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. What’s the difference you’re your experience - between the killer musicians who go onto have very strong careers under their own name, and those that don’t?
TMIJ is one of those extremely underappreciated organizations that do more for jazz than people know.
Most people know the organization as a competition or talent search where some musicians go on to become jazz stars and yes, some don’t. But that’s just one of their many programs that has more to do with Tom Carter’s and TS Monks original vision to promote jazz education under the namesake of Thelonious; or when you consider Herbie Hancock’s unmatched influence in jazz and pop (for both listeners and players), TMIJ’s behind the scenes work with loco-regional music education programs in schools around the globe to the creation of International Jazz Day.
Their mission to ignite the creative spark for jazz in the minds of listeners and players is immeasurable.
Great fact: Jazziz was the first magazine in any niche to put CDs on the front of magazines. How have you adapted that for the jazz age?
Our streaming service that essentially lets subscribers-only stream hi-res audio of the music on the CDs that come with their subscription.
Thanks to Michael for taking the time to answer these questions!
More About Michael Fagien
Michael founded JAZZIZ Magazine in 1983 while in Medical School at the University of Florida and it quickly grew into the largest jazz magazine in the world before entering into a magazine publishing deal with Time-Warner.
JAZZIZ was the first magazine to package a CD inside and this model became the gold standard used in computer, gaming and other music magazines and bundled software.
Known for its attitude and style and “stories behind the music” aimed at reaching a larger audience, JAZZIZ earned its “brand heritage” and entered into sponsorships, new products and licensing agreements outside the music industry including fashion (Nicole Miller), financial service products (MasterCard), as well as food and beverage, music accessories, books, festivals, concerts and live music venues.
In 1995, Michael launched a successful record label in the Verve Group with renowned jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour and label operator Mark Wexler in a joint venture with PolyGram. Its very first release generated a best-selling album (A Twist of Jobim), earning “Album of the Year” leveraging sponsorships to sign artists including Al Jarreau before the label was sold to Universal Music.
Eva Frost is a project manager at JazzDanmark, the national organisation in Denmark responsible for supporting jazz musicians both within their country and with exporting Danish music around the world.
A lot of countries have these organisations, but in my experience these Danes are some of the most proactive I’ve ever met in the jazz world!
I was invited to be a judge for the 2017 ‘Sounds of Denmark‘ festival which takes place in London this September and I got to run a workshop with the final musicians. So I know first hand the excellent range of musicians coming out of Denmark and also how focused the team at JazzDanmark are at helping them build sustainable international careers.
Now before you move on because you’re not Danish or based in London, wait!
Eva, as part of the JazzDanmark team, has a pretty rare overview of building jazz careers abroad due to both the huge amount of shows they work on and also the educational and promotional work they build around this.
So wherever you are and whichever territories you are aiming to tour more in, there are some nice bits of info to takeaway from this Q&A, including…
Seems like a no brainer, but worth saying it again: the bands who achieve long term careers internationally tend to be very proactive when it comes to promoting themselves.
3 of the JazzDanmark judging criteria are particularly important to think about at every step of your career:
Your private, personal network is probably your best asset throughout your career.
Presumably the long-term goal of JazzDanmark is that musicians build sustainable careers. How have some bands been able to achieve this and why, compared to others who saw less immediate results?
As everyone knows, the initial entry to a specific market is the most important.
Promoters, managers and bookers all over the world often look at what artists have done in their particular country before they start working with someone, so making that start is the first step to a sustainable career. This is why we try to help out with exactly that; educating bands about the specific characteristics of the territory we’re focusing on.
That said, the bands who have been able to achieve this are obviously also those who work proactive with the tools we provide them.
Like most showcase projects, Sounds of Denmark involved a judging process. What is the criteria? How important is the profile and motivation of the group compared with the music?
For all our international projects we have a very deliberate application and judging processes.
We work closely with the market (the UK in this upcoming example) by choosing a panel of professionals from that specific country. These ‘judges’ select from a group of Danish bands who have all applied via an open call. We – JazzDanmark – try not to make ourselves the judges because we are not working on that local scene.
Our application criteria have a pretty specific framework for judging, for which there are 4 key themes: Artistic quality, diversity, PR-material and motivation.
The Sounds of Denmark festival aims to give Danish musicians an entry into the UK market. What can independent musicians around the world learn from this promotion?
I’m actually just trying to follow the advice we get from our UK-partners, like saving up to hire a freelance PR-agency for example!
My other best advice would be to always create some strong partnerships and then keep them updated with interesting news.
Your private, personal network is probably your best asset throughout your career.
How important is social media & DIY PR when playing in a new country?
For any musician in any market today, being your own brand and maximising this through the many available channels is key.
And most of those ‘channels’ are free!
You present the Danish showcase at Jazzahead in Bremen. How valuable are industry showcases and at what stage should musicians be applying for these?
The Jazzahead fair in Bremen is a quite special place in the jazz industry, because pretty much everyone worth knowing is there – although there is still a lot of demand to try and reach the most important producers and bookers.
The showcases are an amazing way to present your music to the VIP’s, but since there’s such a little chance to actually get one as part of the official Jazzahead program, we tried to make our own little cosy version during the club night evening.
I actually don’t think it’s a matter of what stage your band is at, it’s – again – more a matter of how much time you are willing to put into every opportunity.
Musicians careers can skyrocket very fast if they are able to create the right strategy for attention – whether that’s the right conceptual output or 100,000 hours in the studio, both can work in their own way!
For a lot of European/North American musicians, touring in Asia – especially Japan – is a big goal but also a big challenge. How did you manage to present 58 shows there?!
In Japan we tried out a new concept as part of the Danish-Japanese 150th anniversary.
We put a lot of effort into one large event in Tokyo called “Opposite 2017” presenting not only music but also other Danish crafts such as design, visual arts and gastronomy – basically trying to do a version of Jazzhouse (Copenhagen) in Japan. This provided us with a solid tool of promotion as well as a financial framework.
We then chose a line-up of 14 bands to perform at the event, who were required to book their own three-date tour in the territory in order to get their place.
All of this was done more than a year ahead of the actual event, so I guess the success was owed to the combination of a prestigious gig in the capital, a basic financial foundation, a realistic time frame and then the mandatory demands which helped this big success: 58 stunning Danish concerts on Japanese soil within 16 days in 23 cities!!
Your Jazzcamp for Girls project is aimed at addressing the gender balance of jazz, which currently runs at around 80/20 in Denmark. Do you think promoters around the world have a responsibility to help this (via quotas, etc) or is it something which needs addressing earlier, in jazz education?
This particular theme is very important to me.
It’s an extremely sad situation that girls are so poorly represented in music; everyone should feel they have their place and space to express themselves artistically.
This is both about giving our daughters the same incitement as our sons, but also about having the art world reflect the diversity of society, and not only representing ‘one side’.
Everyone in the promoter/presenter world is calling out to the education system to enforce this agenda, who on the other hand talk about the lack of idols and role models – so I don’t think it’s either/or. A massive focus on this from all areas of the jazz world would help us make a massive progress within a couple of years or so – but everyone needs to move on it at the same time and stop passing the ball around.
For non-Danish readers looking to perform and build a profile in Denmark, can you give us a few super quick gig & press tips...
3 great Danish jazz festivals that are know for breaking in new talent?
With support from the Danish Arts Council, JazzDanmark organises activities that raises awareness of Danish jazz across the world while also aiming to increase inter-cultural dialogue and understanding. In Denmark, JazzDanmark works with talent-development, paving the way for the future listeners and players of jazz music, increased diversity within the music industry, and with facilitating new collaborations and meetings in- and outside the jazzscene.
Overall, JazzDanmark’s aim is to create possibilities for jazz and improvised music to reach a growing audience, with increasingly better experiences.