April 2018 sees the 13th edition of jazzahead!, one of the biggest jazz-focused conferences in the world.
I’ll be there in Bremen, Germany, for the 9th consecutive year – along with more than THREE THOUSAND promoters, agents, journalists, musicians and record labels from around the world.
As it approaches, I wanted to share a 4-part guide to making the most out of it. First up, here’s a quick introductory look at what to expect and how to prepare as a jazz musician attendee…
“Out of all these type of industry events that I’ve been to, my experience at jazzahead! was the most cordial, spacious and relaxed. I really enjoyed it!” – Gilad Hekselman
© Jan Rathke / Messe Bremen
The quick guide to jazzahead! 2018
For those of you that haven’t been, jazzahead! can basically be broken down into two parts.
1) There’s a massive conference hall full of promoters, journalists, musicians, record labels, agents, PRs, distributors & managers, all working in the world of jazz.
2) Alongside this, pre-selected bands from around the world perform showcases for anyone with a conference pass to watch.
And when I say that the conference is worldwide, I really mean it! Aside from the Europeans, I’ve met plenty of promoters from as far afield as America, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, Australia and Brazil…and there seem to be more coming each year!
“jazzahead! offers artists the opportunity to get to know concert organizers, press representatives and musicians personally over several days. This is a great opportunity to network across borders” – Nicole-Jo, saxophonist
jazzahead! 2018: Booth by Booth
The main feature of the conference halls are the booths, where festivals, magazines, record labels, agencies and national jazz organisations set up displays about their activities.
Just getting around all of these (and taking time to chat with the hosts) can take the best part of a day – especially when the clock hits 5pm and some of them offer tastings of their national food and drink!
Aside from these booths where you can make some great connections, there are a few on-site cafes where you can hang out or take pre-arranged meetings. And alongside all of this, you have showcasing venues which host a ton of performances throughout the day and a festival-style series of concerts around the city on the Saturday night. Not to mention the opportunity for late night ‘meetings’ at the various late night jazzahead! events…
As Sean Foran, pianist in Australian trio Trichotomy highlighted… “it’s a great place to make the face-to-face connection… So much better than email or phone calls”
© Jan Rathke / Messe Bremen
jazzahead! Dates: 19-22 April 2018
The conference stretches over the Thursday, Friday and Saturday and it’s so valuable to be able to sit down with people who are usually only accessible by email and explain, quickly, what you are working on.
Sybille Kornitschky, who has been organising the event since it began in 2006, highlighted one super important thing: “we see ourselves primarily as working for the artists, so each year we think about how can we make it more valuable for them.”
And, with focused networking events and showcasing opportunities each year, they have seen the real way that you, the musician, is benefitting from the conference: meeting industry people and showing them what you do.
The jazzahead! database
Physical features aside, one of THE most valuable tools which jazzahead! provides is access to a database of everyone who is registered to attend.
Once you’re signed up, you can log in and see the name and contact details for all these people, as well as search and filter by type (promoter, press, record label) and country.
If you don’t have a good list of promoter contacts already, this alone pretty much worth registering for, even before you set foot in the conference. If even one of these email addresses lands you a gig, you’ve mot likely covered your registration fee – and then some!
“Just go there and see what’s happening. Also as a musician, always keep in mind that everybody at jazzahead! is in the same boat, we all do this because we love this music…” – David Helbock, pianist
As any of you who’ve already been to jazzahead! – or a similar industry event – know, many promoters are at the conference to meet colleagues and watch showcases. But they do also take meetings if it’s something they’re interested in, so the key is preparing your visit in advance.
DISCLAIMER: jazzahead! has been one of the key industry dates in my diary for some years now. I’m normally a paid up delegate but this year, as I’m writing this guide to the conference, hosting a ticket giveaway and generally sharing my opinion on it with you guys, the organisers are giving me a press pass.