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?

Takeaways from 40+ club & festival promoters: practical advice on getting gigs

Free download: The Jazz Promoter Survey

Takeaways from 40+ club & festival promoters: practical advice on getting gigs…

“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.

Takeaways from 40+ club & festival promoters: practical advice on getting gigs

Free download: The Jazz Promoter Survey

Takeaways from 40+ club & festival promoters: practical advice on getting gigs…

What jazz 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…

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...

Interview with Kim Macari

Interview with Kim Macari

From Kurt Rosenwinkel talking about his early days phoning Spanish jazz clubs to pianist Alan Benzie running through how he booked a 16-date European tour, some of the most-read Jazzfuel interviews and guest articles have involved musicians who've done the industry...

The Best Jazz Clubs & Venues in Paris (2020)

The Best Jazz Clubs & Venues in Paris (2020)

Whether you're a fan or a musician, here's our rundown on some of the best jazz clubs in Paris in 2020... France has played an important part in jazz history, welcoming all sorts of legendary musicians over the years. Some came to play at the many festivals that take...

The Best Jazz Clubs in New York (2020)

The Best Jazz Clubs in New York (2020)

In many ways, NYC is the centre of the jazz world. And, as such, New York jazz clubs, bars & venues provide a place where jazz fans and musicians alike can hear some of the best music of the day. From living legends to the stars of tomorrow - and everything in...

Italian Jazz Clubs & Venues

Italian Jazz Clubs & Venues

Great Venues & Jazz Clubs in Italy The European jazz scene offers such a wide and varied culture and, without a doubt, one of the most historically significant countries is Italy. Aside from some of the big names to come out of the Italian jazz scene - Enrico...

Get lifetime access to the "How To Get More Jazz Gigs" online video course

The "How To Get More Jazz Gigs" video course

Get lifetime access to this step-by-step course, with booking agent support

About Matt Fripp & Jazzfuel

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