Interviewing the industry

Over the last 2 years I’ve interviewed people from all areas of the jazz industry to get their insight and advice on how you – a gigging jazz musician – can grow your career faster and more effectively.

I’m happy to share my advice and experiences from 10+ years as a jazz booking agent & manager with you, but I’m a firm believer that when it comes to something as important as your career, we should all try to get as many different points of view as possible.

So, I’ve put together this ever-expanding series of jazz interviews and written specific questions for each person – based on their work and experiences – to try to dig out their most useful tips. As always, the goal is to help you:

  • Get more gigs
  • Release your music successfully
  • Promote your project as well as possible

Who’s involved from the jazz industry?

I’m regularly adding new interviews here, but I’ve already persuaded some great guests from the jazz industry to take part.

1) The Jazz Press

On the press side, there are Q&A sessions with the editors of both Jazziz in America and Jazzwise magazine in the UK.

The various journalists featured have written for a whole range of jazz publications, including AllAboutJazz, The Arts Desk, London Jazz, Jazz Journal and many more.

2) Gig Promoters

A BIG focus of this site is on how to actually get more jazz gigs. So, there are plenty of promoters from all around the world in this interview series.

In fact, a while back, I did a survey with more than 40 international jazz promoters who gave some great insight into what they’re looking for when booking bands.

This, along with interviews with bookers for the likes of Cheltenham Jazz Festival in the UK, Jazzkaar in Estonia and Jazz Fest Brno in the Czech Republic provide actionable advice on topics like:

  • How to better pitch for gigs by email
  • What promoters are looking for (aside from great music!)
  • How & why to grow your personal network
  • The promo tools you need to have

3) Booking Agents

I’ve also spoken to a bunch of booking agents who work specifically with jazz musicians. They talk about the things they look for in new signings, as well as how they approach getting through to promoters and actually confirming shows.

In particular, Dutch agents from the Good Music Company discuss their role in developing artists like Snarky Puppy & trumpeter Avishai Cohen and Danish agent Kat Jarby talks about booking avant-garde & contemporary jazz.

If you’re focused on booking gigs for yourself, really figuring out what people are looking for – aside from killer music, of course – can give you a big advantage… and I hope some of these agency perspectives will help you do that!

4) Other musicians

The most-read interview on this site is actually with a musician: the great Kurt Rosenwinkel. He talks about his journey from music student through to international touring, a major record deal and then launching his own label.

I’ve featured pieces from a few other musicians along the way too, who had some very specific advice to give:

I hope some of the things these musicians – and others like them – share, will give you some extra insight and motivation for your own project!

A few highlights from the jazz interviews

You’ll find all of the interviews available below, but if you want a quick overview (or something to check out later) you can download a free copy of my ‘key interview takeaways’ PDF by clicking here.

Here are a couple of quotes I pulled out to get you started…

“There are not anywhere near enough press outlets covering jazz to make it without doing your own outreach directly to fans” – Philip Freeman (USA), jazz journalist & digital marketing expert

“To get international recognition I think it’s important to, beyond obviously presenting great music, invest your time and effort into establishing a following outside of your country” Ernesto Cervini (Canada), jazz publicist & drummer

[on pitching for gigs] “The best thing is having a live video so I can check what the band is going to look like on stage” – Jakub Zitko, booker of Jazz Dock in Prague

[on breaking into a new scene] “Get in with some well-connected local players… Once you have raised your profile by association, you will likely have the contacts and the opportunity to gig in your own name” – Peter Bacon (UK), writer/editor for London Jazz News



Interview with music lawyer Robert Horsfall of Sound Advice

Interview with music lawyer Robert Horsfall of Sound Advice

I don't know about you, but there was a time when I assumed you only needed a lawyer if you were in some sort of trouble. I certainly didn't consider one being particularly necessary or viable in the independent jazz world. But in fact, as I've learnt through various...

Focusyear, ECM & Jazz Greats 10 Questions with Wolfgang Muthspiel

Focusyear, ECM & Jazz Greats 10 Questions with Wolfgang Muthspiel

©Laura Pleifer Over the last 3 decades, award-winning and critically acclaimed guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel has toured and recorded with many of the worlds jazz greats; the most recent of which features Brad Mehldau, Ambrose Akinmusire, Larry Grenadier & Eric...

Chatting to Nick Lewis of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

Chatting to Nick Lewis of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

Nick Lewis is one of a 5-strong programming team at London's legendary Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club and shares some insight from his 12+ years  at the venue, including his work to champion emerging artists and the changing notions of what 21st century programming looks...

Artists to watch in 2019

Artists to watch in 2019

We asked a bunch of jazz promoters from around the world for some of their artist tips for the year ahead. No other conditions such as new artists vs established ones or fitting into any specific niche or style. Just music they feel will (or at least should) reach a...

London Jazz & Beyond (Q&A with writer/editor Peter Bacon)

London Jazz & Beyond
(Q&A with writer/editor Peter Bacon)

Peter Bacon is editor-at-large of London Jazz News - recently described as the most in-depth local jazz coverage on the planet - and has been writing about jazz for 40 years. He's written about albums and concerts from various positions, including as a full-time...

Q&A with Merli Antsmaa from the Jazzkaar Festival in Estonia

Q&A with Merli Antsmaa from the Jazzkaar Festival in Estonia

Jazzkaar Festival in Estonia's capital Tallinn is one of the biggest jazz festivals in the Baltic States and will be celebrating it's 30th anniversary between the 19th to 28th of April 2019. An ever-present force on the jazz scene, it's programming team is...

Self-booking an international tour with jazz pianist Alan Benzie

Self-booking an international tour with jazz pianist Alan Benzie

For all the focus on finding an agent to help build your career as a jazz musician, there are some great examples out there of musicians who have taken on this role themselves and seen good results. One such example that I came across recently from the...

Tips from 40+ International Jazz Festival & Club Promoters

Tips from 40+ International Jazz Festival & Club Promoters

More than 40 jazz festival & venue promoters around the world took part in a Jazzfuel survey about how they discover and book artists. Here's my round up of the answers and what they mean for you as a gigging musician. As an independent jazz musician, it's not...

Q&A with Dave Douglas “The Unassuming King of Independent Jazz”

Q&A with Dave Douglas
“The Unassuming King of Independent Jazz”

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...

Q&A with Michael Fagien of Jazziz Magazine

Q&A with Michael Fagien of Jazziz Magazine

Today's interview is with Michael Fagien, the founding editor of America's Jazziz Magazine. With over 30 years of experience in the jazz industry, he's seen first hand how things have changed and gives his insight on building your audience and connecting...

Hope you got some useful ‘takeaways’ from those interviews!

If you’d like to get updates when new interviews are posted – as well as other content and tips not published on the website, you can join the Jazzfuel mailing list here.