If you’re looking to get your new music to the widest possible audience – as well as use it to get gig bookings later – press coverage is a very important focus.
In order to run our own press outreach campaigns better, as well as advise musicians who go down the DIY route – we try to speak to as many journalists, editors and other jazz media folk as possible.
At the end of the day, it’s these people who you need to convince!
With that in mind, this edition of the Jazzfuel Industry Interviews series is with Cim Meyer, the chief editor of Jazz Special. This Danish jazz magazine has been around for more than 30 years, releasing a new edition every 10 weeks or so.
Its 8,000 readers correspond to about 0,16% of the population of Denmark, making Jazz Special possibly the most widely distributed jazz magazine in the world, in relation to the nation as a whole!
Musically, the magazine has a broad concept, dealing with every aspect of jazz and around 50% of its content covers Danish jazz while the remainder explores the international jazz scene.
All that to say: wherever you are in the world, if you’re making great music and presenting it in the right way, Jazz Special offers you the opportunity to connect with fans in Denmark!
We’ll let you read the full interview below, which includes some interesting points on the continuing relevance of physical product in 2021, the changing age of jazz magazine readers and why your chances of getting reviewed are around 1 in 16..!
How long have you been working in Jazz Special and how old is the magazine actually?
We do have a site with all this info plus a news section and more than 150 editions of Jazz Special as flip-magazines available for subscribers (I think we were among the very first movers here) – but alas the site is in Danish and lack of money has postponed an English version for decades.
Jazz Special #1 was released in 1991, which means we have had our 30th anniversary.
I was headhunted as editor in chief in 1995.
Why do you think Danish Jazz has evolved into such a recognisable sound around the world?
Having done scores of blindfold tests I am not sure we DO have a recognisable sound in general around the world.
Of course, we have a few individual musicians and a few bands with an international reputation but if any general characteristics are to be mentioned about Danish jazz it is rather that it has a multi-faceted and cosmopolitan nature.
We must also remember that Greenland and the Faroe Islands, though these countries have some sovereignty, are affiliated to Denmark.
One other factor is the high level (compared to other countries) of public subsidies from state and municipalities for cultural enterprises in the Scandinavian countries.
Another factor is Denmark’s proximity to the folklore traditions of Norway and the Baltic countries at the same time as we have a common border with Germany and close ties to the UK and the USA.
So it is hard to pinpoint a specific Danish sound (which to a slight degree distinguishes Denmark from Sweden and Norway).
What’s the average demographic of the Jazz Special readers? Has this changed over the years?
In 1999 we did a comprehensive survey.
At that time, the average age of a Jazz Special reader was 42,9 years.
It is my feeling that up till say 2010 the average age grew a bit – but in the last ten years it has fallen a bit.
We have a very even distribution of subscribers throughout the country and it has not changed over the years.
But a decline of subscribers has taken place in this millennium – as has happened to all printed periodicals and newspapers.
In terms of review requests, what can a musician do to stand a better chance of getting their music considered in terms of timing and promotional content?
First of all: present some damned good music!
The number of requests we get is overwhelming.
The competition is fierce and the space available limited.
We are still quite old-fashioned in terms of media (not in terms of music!).
Let us be honest: physical media will probably have a better chance of being noticed, and if we get two copies even the editors (and not only the reviewer) will have a chance of discovering possible gems.
Unfortunately, the distribution costs of physical media involved for the record labels and the musicians are sometimes unbearable, especially for releases without European distributors.
This of course means that we do keep an eye and an ear out for digitally promoted releases.
Do you ever publish reviews of albums that have already been released weeks or months in the past?
Oh yeah. We must be flexible when the magazine has a frequency of five releases a year and the distribution of international records varies from country to country.
What are the criteria or decision-making process for you and the team for choosing what to review?
To some extent I will work as a gate and feed info and sound to the review editor.
But the day-to-day decisions are made by the review editor.
The editor-in-chief and the review editor will discuss general outlines and ideas and every review is proof-read by both editors before print.
Approximately how many pitches are you receiving each week (and how does that correspond to how many you can publish?)
About 40 each week by e-mail and as many by snail-mail.
A magazine covers about 10 weeks.
That means 800 pitches for a magazine that has about 100 reviews – and only half are non-Danish.
The ratio or chance of exposure is 1:16.
If you’d just graduated from a top music college and had a budget of $500 to promote your first album, what would be top of your to-do list?
Be realistic and narrow your target venues to a minimum.
Maybe you need to consolidate yourself at the home market (or close markets) before going international.
Get help to produce professional PR material.
All text should be short and to the point and hi-res photos of artistic quality are always valuable.
Do you share tips and ideas with any other press outlets or industry contacts?
Yes, and I’m also personally involved in other outlets.
In your experience of being pitched to by both musicians and publicists, what’s the biggest difference in the way they go about this?
Publicists may understand the business better, but they tend to be formalistic – everything is handled the same way.
Musicians can be a bit too smug. Sometimes less can have a bigger effect – that goes for PR as well as music.
Cim, thank you very much for taking the time to share these thoughts!
If you’d like to check out Jazz Special, you can find them at www.jazzspecial.dk.
Looking for more media outlets? We’ve got a whole range of magazine, blog & press recommendations here.
Looking for help on your next album release? Check out our press outreach service.