In this interview, we talk with the long time producer and host of BBC Radio’s Jazz World show, Linley Hamilton.
We’ve dived deep in the current state of radio broadcasting and discussed the best ways to reach out to journalists for some airplay.
You can find the full interview below, but here are some takeaways that we think are important.
- Radio is still a vital platform for promoting new records and connecting with audiences, facilitating the relationship between musicians and listeners.
- Deeper understanding of the musical language and vocabulary of the jazz scene is essential to communicate more effectively with audiences and connect with fellow musicians.
- Hosted radio shows will continue to have a place in the future of music promotion, particularly if they offer an informed view and a narrative that allows listeners to be part of a communal musical relationship.
- Jazz musicians can leverage social media to promote their appearances on radio shows and direct listeners to access the show live or on demand.
Here’s the full interview…
You’ve produced BBC’s Jazz World show for many years; how important is radio in terms of promoting a new record in today’s world?
I think it’s a vital cog in the wheel that hopefully provides a narrative for the whole scene, that contextualises the local with the global, and provides a home for enthusiasts who also get a chance to directly connect with the musicians and form a relationship with their music, support them as they grow, spot their influence on others, and be a part of a movement going forward.
It’s good to have a service that informs, but also supports and facilitates. I think radio will continue to do that.
You are both a musician and a broadcaster; what challenges does being on both ‘sides’ of the industry bring up? How about the advantages?
The advantages are definitely that I can hear the pathways that the musicians are following, I am familiar with the language, the harmonic vocabulary they use and the rhythmic grammar they employ, perhaps their ways of articulating tension musically and I can get a chance to translate a little of what is going on.
I also know how much work has gone into producing a career as an artist or musician of this level and so I can hopefully underpin the respect and love these musicians deserve and provide a supportive platform through that understanding.
With streaming and on-demand music becoming more widespread, how do you see the future of hosted radio shows like yours?
There will always be space for an informed view, a tour guide of the music, someone who can connect the recordings to the live scene.
I also think that if presenters provide a narrative to their show, listeners can be part of something special, where the music is played for and with them rather than to or at, where the musical relationship is communal rather than observational.
Are you and/or the BBC actively promoting the show to get new listeners and, if so, how does that look?
The BBC obviously has a wide reach, but I use social media to connect musicians and audiences with an opportunity to steer listeners to the show live, or to listen again for up to a month on BBC Sounds.
What is your best advice for jazz musicians to get their record on the radio?
Although marketing is always something that should be a strong part of the timeline for any record, the product itself should be the focus and if the musicians produce something that is a true reflection of them and where they are in that moment, then that sincerity will be heard in the recording.
From a practical point of view, keep tracks under 7 minutes if you can, and contact the show directly.
What other jazz radio shows do you check out, either for ideas or enjoyment?
There are quite a few actually.
Alex Dutilh’s Open Jazz (France), Radio 2 Soul and Jazz (Netherlands) and Saturday Night Jazz with Laila Biali (Canada) are worth checking out.
In terms of pitching albums to radio shows, should musicians suggest specific tracks they think would work best?
There are always key tracks on every album and a musician’s steer is worth its weight in gold.
I refer to something from a previous answer, that if you are pitching tracks of over 7 minutes, then also offer something that is a little shorter.
What makes a great interview guest?
The most important thing is to make sure the message comes out in the allotted time.
The listener wants to feel that they are in the room, so be relaxed, friendly, and make the presenter feel part of your team rather than a servant to your publicity machine.
You are also a lecturer at Ulster University Magee; in terms of career advice, what do you think young musicians need to be doing in order to be better prepared for a career?
I think in many cases, a music career becomes a Portfolio Income career.
Performing may be the driver or composition, but this often leads to other opportunities: teaching, mentoring, workshops, programming festivals and venues.
The expertise they gain from getting good enough to have a professional career as a player, will translate into a range of valuable skill sets for others. Be open to those opportunities, seek them, market yourself to them, be visible, and most importantly, be nice.
How do you discover new music?
There is so much out there.
I try and engage with scenes, obviously New York, Chicago, LA etc. UK and Ireland which is my patch and I know thoroughly, but also Europe.
I am across a lot of what is released and try and provide opportunities for new emerging artists while reinforcing the standard of what we have in jazz worldwide by featuring historical and current releases by established artists.
There are organisations whose job it is to seek people like me out and inform us of new releases, and I have certainly been open to that.
Thanks again to Linley for sharing this insight!
About Linley Hamilton
Linley is a trumpeter, educator and broadcaster from Belfast who has been part of the jazz scene for over 35 years. With six studio albums (stretching from 2001’s “Up to Now” to this year’s “Ginger’s Hollow” his work has spanned small and large ensemble (including strings) and spent weeks in the US Jazzweek charts. You can find out about that part of his professional profile here.
Linley has maintained an academic path, with a Masters in Jazz Performance from DIT (2009) and a PhD from Ulster University Magee in 2014, where he has a full-time position as Lecturer in Music.
Linley also has a jazz show on BBC Radio Ulster, Jazz World with Linley Hamilton, which broadcasts on Saturday nights at 9pm and is described as “a contemporary jazz show with a focus on Ireland.”
In recent years, Linley has set up Magy’s Farm with his wife Maggie – a performance space mostly for jazz from around the world. Artists who have performed
there include Jim Beard and Jon Herington (Steely Dan), Ari Hoenig, Seamus Blake, Bill Carrothers (as part of Kevin Brady’s Electric Band), the Larry Goldings Trio, Trio Grande 2.0 and the Mike Janisch Quintet.
Linley manages to make all these things happen simultaneously and has no intention of slowing down anytime soon!