JAZZ GIGS

(quick start guide)

I’ve been working as a booking agent for more than 10 years now, which means a lot of hours spent thinking about how to get more jazz gigs.

I’ve dedicated a large part of this Jazzfuel site to showing you how to do the same, and I want to highlight a few key things that will help you be more successful. 

Wherever you’re at in your career, I’m guessing your main focus is on getting more gigs, right?

Reaching the level where you’re able to attract an audience both at home and internationally means you can have some level of freedom – both financially & artistically – to focus on the music and projects you want.

“I have almost no experience in booking gigs myself, and no network!” 

I get it: you’ve spent years practicing and studying how to play jazz, not how be a booking agent.

Probably the idea of putting more time and effort into that side of things is, at best, boring and, at worst, terrifying?!

But as an ex-musician (who was thrown in the deep end and forced to learn quickly how to be an agent) I guarantee I can show you some things that will make booking gigs easier.

And it’s not just me. I also share insight and advice from club and festival promoters around the world. If you haven’t already, this survey of international jazz festivals and club promoters is a useful place to start, with 40+ concert organisers telling you how to pitch your project better! 

Booking jazz gigs, step-by-step

Without wanting to do myself out of a job, I feel I should point out that booking jazz gigs is not rocket science!

In one of the most-read articles on this site, I’ve laid out a super simple method for doing it  and it basically comes down to this:

  • Make great music (I’ll assume you’re already doing this!)
  • Figure out which clubs & festivals book similar things
  • Research and contact the people who book those gigs
  • Convince & excite them about your project

(this last step involves having great video content, photos, press quotes and promo texts… all of which are covered in more detail in the section on self promotion as a jazz musician)

I’m not trying to say that booking gigs is quick and easy, but there is a way to massively improve how effective you are with this. So in a relatively small amount of time, you can make impressive progress.

Sound good?

“Almost 60% of festival & club gigs were booked direct with the artist – no agent involved”

source: International Jazz Promoter Survey

“I need a booking agent to get good gigs”

I did a survey a while back with almost 50 international jazz promoters which showed that almost 60% of gigs they booked were done so directly with the artist. No agent involved.

So before we go any further, let’s agree that “I can’t get more gigs without an agent” is not 100% fact.

It’s true that a booking agent can speed up a career when they’re really fired up about a project. They also take care of a bunch of stuff you might not really want to be doing.

As such, finding a booking agent is a good career target and one that I can share some actionable tips on

But if the possibility of getting an agent disappeared today, your plans to build a career as an internationally touring jazz musician would not disappear too.

In my experience, it’s very hard to get a good agent until you’re already getting some good gig opportunities.

Frustrating, I know.

But there’s so much great music out there, compared to a relatively small number of agents and so choosing great bands with some proven demand is more attractive than choosing great bands without much proven demand.

So my goal with a lot of the content here – as well as the Jazzfuel newsletter – is to show how you can start making faster progress with your gigs and tours right now, by yourself.

[You might also be interested in checking this list I put together: Booking agents vs Music managers]

From your local city to international touring

As an agent – and via the Jazzfuel site – I help musicians of all levels grow their career. From freshly graduated music students through to professionals who’ve played internationally for 20+ years.

And at every level, there’s room to be more adventurous and aim higher in terms of what sort of gigs you’re doing.

Of course, you need to build your gigs step by step.

You probably won’t end up with too many international festival offers before can get a decent gig in your home country.

But assuming you’re a serious musician, there’s no need to wait.

The world is a pretty small place thanks to the internet and, whatever level you’re at right now, you can make real progress towards touring at the next level.

For some of you, that might be building your reputation in your home city. For others, growing demand for your project nationally, or even internationally.

Most of the advice I’m sharing is relevant every step of the way and are things that I’ve tried out with both independent and DIY artists right through to those releasing on major labels.

All this to say: don’t get stuck in the trap of feeling that you need to make your music and your promo materials perfect before you start working on this.

What gigs are out there?

Of course, if you don’t know about a club, venue or festival, it’s pretty hard to ask for a gig there!

So whilst there’s a lot of value in doing your own research for this, and checking out the tour schedules of bands that play in a similar style to you, we’ve been putting together various guides and interviews to help you discover some of the great jazz clubs and festivals around the world.

Hopefully that will provide some inspiration and motivation on your own continuing discovery of great jazz gigs that you could book.

Best Jazz Clubs & Festivals in San Francisco

Best Jazz Clubs & Festivals in San Francisco

Looking for ideas of jazz clubs and festivals in San Francisco? We've got you covered in this guide, which runs through some of the opportunities for all sorts of jazz in The Golden City. Jazz may have originated in New Orleans, but it wasn't long before it moved...

Jazz in Los Angeles | Clubs, Festivals & Musicians

Jazz in Los Angeles | Clubs, Festivals & Musicians

We put this article together to showcase some the best jazz clubs and festivals in Los Angeles, as well as to give a taste of the history of the music in this West Coast city and some notable jazz musicians performing in LA today. New York has long been considered the...

Interview with Frank van Berkel of Bimhuis Jazz Club

Interview with Frank van Berkel of Bimhuis Jazz Club

Despite its relatively small size as a country, the Dutch jazz scene presents an impressive array of music featuring both homegrown and international artists. In this interview we caught up with Frank van Berkel who is the programmer at Bimhuis in Amsterdam - one of...

Jazz in North Macedonia

Jazz in North Macedonia

When it comes to touring in Europe there are many smaller countries which, whilst not as 'famous' on the international jazz circuit, provide some great opportunities for performing at clubs and festivals in front of enthusiastic and discerning jazz fans. We're going...

The Best Chicago Jazz Clubs & Venues

The Best Chicago Jazz Clubs & Venues

In this article we're heading towards Lake Michigan to highlight 5 of the best jazz clubs in Chicago, Illinois - but not before diving into the history of the music in one of America's largest cities. If you're reading up on the history of jazz, Chicago is going to...

The "How To Get More Jazz Gigs" online course

Next edition: January 2021

This online video course, with 1-to-1 support from a European jazz booking agent, takes you through everything you need to know when trying to book gigs for your project. Check out testimonials from current participants as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the course.