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.

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.

Check out the articles related to booking jazz gigs…

Booking Your Own Jazz Gigs?
Here’s How To Get Better Results

Are you working on booking jazz gigs for your band or project? Today, I'm going to show you how to get better results, by figuring out exactly which promoters are ready to book you. This method has helped me book more than 1,500 gigs - and it can help you too! Calling...

4 Ways To Get A Jazz Booking Agent

If you're like most professional jazz musicians who don't yet have a booking agent, getting one to hook you up with international gigs and festivals is pretty high on your to-do list. Today I want to share 4 things that I came to realise (as a jazz booking agent...

The "How To Get More Jazz Gigs" online course

Next edition: January 2019

Launched last summer, this online video course, with 1-to-1 support from me, 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.