jazzahead review 2017

2017 was my 8th time at the jazzahead! conference in Germany and, a couple of months before, I wrote an article about how musicians could make the most of the event, along with a competition for a free registration.

It’s always a bit of a whirlwind of meetings and, as a booking agent & manager first and foremost, I spent a lot of time with promoters. I managed to catch up with a few musicians from around the world but wanted to get a better insight into how useful the weekend was for them.

Below you can find comments and feedback from 42 different jazz musicians from all over the world about their experience of this year’s event…


Jazzahead is an incredible opportunity to get face to face with a huge cross section of the jazz music community, to build relationships and create new opportunities. As a composer and musician from Australia, it was invaluable for me to not only be able to talk with the festival directors I wanted to meet but to have the opportunity to showcase my awesome band of musicians in a live concert. From attending Jazzahead I have a far clearer idea of how the industry in Europe works and the ways in which to build a pathway to Europe for my music.
– Stu Hunter (AUS)

For me as a young and determined musician having a presence at the Jazzahead has been a very positive factor in the development of my projects in recent years. Jazzahead manages to strengthen the national and regional networks and is also a fantastic window to the world. This year was my 3rd year coming, and every time I go back home with good results. Since 2015 – which was also the year I first had a presence at Jazzahead – I have booked and performed over 100  concerts with my group, Freedoms Trio. This year at the fair, in addition to being there myself, I was represented by Losen Records, Music Norway, Export Music Sweden and Idris Media Agency which altogether makes for a driving force that would not have come together if it was not  for Jazzahead.
– Steinar Aadnekvam (SE) 

 I found visiting the Jazzahead extremely rewarding because it showed me that there are still countless people at work for this genre and it is  alive and kicking. I went back home filled hope that not all is lost in these times of digital freebie mentality.
– Pat Appleton (DE)

Jazzahead made me feel I was abducted – in a good way – for some days…It’s wonderful to run into old friends and meet people that share the same passion.
– Hugo Fernandez (MX)

Jazzahead is a great opportunity to meet with musicians and professionals from within the international jazz scene. It’s great to meet people with the same drive and ambition, sharing passion for the music and exchanging thoughts about the now and the future.
– Dries Geusens (BE)

Jazzahead was a welcome opportunity to meet and interact with representatives of the international jazz community, but as a musician unused to having to market myself so intensely, it also was quite sobering. Next time I’ll be better prepared to benefit more from it all, especially by setting up meetings weeks in advance.
– Raoul Björkenheim Ecstasy (IS)

I went to Jazzahead two years ago and had an awful time. I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know anyone there. This time, I did some homework on who would be there. I also tag-teamed with friends who had been there before. We helped introduce each other to folks we knew. That made it a LOT more fun. I also went in with the goal of finding out what other people were doing there. It made me more relaxed and able to book gigs when I met the right people along the way.
– Kristin Korb (USA/DK)

For me it was the first time to be there and only for our showcase concert and a few more hours, which I enjoyed very much. I think this conference is  very important and useful for our work and for keeping old and new contacts with many great people and of course get inspired by the many great musicians, which are playing there!
Nico Lohmann (DE)

This year jazzahead for me was a great experience. We were able to play a cool showcase in front of a full house and many promoters talked to us and Im sure a few concerts all over the world will directly develop out of our showcase… I guess in the last years I maybe had too much expectation so you can get easily disappointed but this year I managed to just dive into the jazzahead experience and take whatever comes out of it – I think it´s very important to realise that everybody is in the same boat and that we can only help each other…
– David Helbock (AT)

jazzahead! est un excellent évènement pour rencontrer les artistes et professionnel de la grande famille du jazz international.
– Emmanuel Feramus (FR)

 I’m a Hungarian, based in London, working with a label and an agency from Germany. As my fellow musicians, agents and promoters are spread out in different countries, Jazzahead is a great opportunity to meet everyone in person at once, and discuss in a few minutes what would take dozens of emails exchanged. It’s a very efficient platform for networking. In the meantime, I love the showcases, it’s such a great selection of what’s happening in jazz today.
– Veronika Harcsa (HU)

It was very interesting to visit Jazzahead 2017 – there was a wide range of opportunities to explore like meeting organisers, promoters, people from labels and magazines personally, listening to many great bands and taking part in some very interesting presentations and discussions. The conference is very well organised and you easily find your way to all the different parts and options. I can definitely recommend to participate – even if it’s just for one day.
– Stephanie Lottermoser (DE)

Beside amazing live concerts, Jazzahead! offers such a relaxed space to make contacts with like-minded professionals in the jazz scene across Europe. Even though it is a conference, it feels much more like a fun, but super productive festival.
– Tabeah Mangelsdorf (DE)

One thing we learn over and over again about the industry is the importance of getting to know people personally. You just don’t get to play a festival just by sending an email and a video link. We got to meet and share our work with new people and update people who showed interest in our music last year. It was great. We’ll definitely be back next year.
– Guy Shkolnik (IL)

Although I was dreading the competitive atmosphere a bit, my first experience of Jazzahead was positive. Networking was easy and pleasant. For a vocal jazz artist with a new CD, it was a good opportunity to meet agents and promoters and to renew contacts with people in the jazz business from around the world. Concerts were illuminating, giving a perspective on what’s out there and new trends in European Jazz.
– Judy Niemack (USA)

Was my first time in Jazzahead and was amazing. Be face-to-face with the most important promoters, agents, record labels and journalists of the jazz circuit and show to them my music and talk about my band was great. I learned a lot about the jazz business during the three days of conference. Also I met a bunch of great musicians from around the world and was possible to share experiences and make partnerships. Jazzahead is huge and I think that my next years there I will be more effective building nets, partnerships and deals.
– Jefferson Amorim (BR)

Being it my first time at the conference and coming from the States I had no idea what to expect. It was wonderful to meet people from all around the world with our shared interest in this music. I look forward to coming back again to solidify and create new relationships.
– Trevor Anderies (USA)

It was my first Jazzahead exhibition in my life. This is a unique opportunity to meet your friends from the jazz industry and new colleagues in one place. I enjoyed communication, atmosphere and of course music at showcases very much. Hope to be there the next year!
– Oxana Voytenko

Good vibes, nice people, free drinks and great parties. It was my first time at Jazzahead and I am totally convinced that it is the place to be!
– Jon Døssing Bendixen (DK), Abekejser

We found that JAZZHEAD! Bremen is a great platform to meet new people that might be interested in your project: agents, festivals, culture organisations and also other musicians. We surely can recommend it – visiting in JAZZHEAD! 2017 has brought our ‘Comics Jazz Concert’ a big step forward.
– Itay Dvori (Yam Yabasha Ensemble)

Jazz is international. How fantastic it was to fly out from London and mix with jazz lovers from all parts of the world under one enormous roof. It was my first year and although I found it quite daunting, it was also inspiring.
– Julian Costello (UK)

Jazzahead is an amazingly well organized event, with of the most important actors of the world jazz scene all together in one large space. This represents a big opportunity for musicians to personally meet old contacts again, revive old partnerships and most of all create new ones. Of course, it is not easy going there as a musician purely trying to sell yourself, but it is always a very valuable experience which can bring some immediate and some long-term results for a musician’s career.
– Maxime Bender (LUX)

This year I went to Bremen straight from Vienna, after performing at Porgy & Bess on April 27 with my trio. Once again JazzAhead proved itself as a great place to be in the now. Just hanging out meeting people and enjoying this amazing community of music.
– Tomas Janzon (USA)

The conference is a great chance for people in the music industry to meet each other personally. Not through e-mails or calls but sitting together, having a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. There are journalists and organizers, but also lots of musicians so you can enjoy the pleasure of seeing musician-friends from different countries you haven’t seen for a while, hang out, go to listen to lots of shows. I really love this human and warm touch that I find at jazzahead.
– Anna Lauvergnac (IT)

I think the key to getting the most out of JazzAhead is attending every year. People remember you from “last year” and the personal contacts and being introduced to someone by a mutual “friend” is what sometimes counts the most. JazzAhead definitely gives me a boost every year.
– Sunna Gunnlaugs (IS)

The Jazzahead in Bremen is a not only a great event to make new contacts with interesting people from all over the world – it is also an inspiring place to activate the spirit and get your own business activities on a higher level.
– Philipp Rehm

As an American artist attending Jazzahead for the first time I can say without a doubt that it was well worth my time. Granted, I only spent one day there (my band and I were passing through amidst a European tour), however, in just that limited time I managed to meet many new industry players and catch up with old friends.
– Ryan Keberle (USA)

I was quite overwhelmed of the countless visitors, exhibitors and many inspiring concerts at the jazzahead! Almost made the impression, that people can make lot’s of money, working in the „Jazz-business“ 😉 Jazzahead! showed to me, that there are many great idealists and that Jazz can build connections worldwide. Seems like the Jazz-scene is absolutely alive! Let’s keep that going!
– Andreas See (AT)

This was my first experience at Jazzahead, and it was totally good. The music was quite great, Bremen was interesting and quite manageable, and I met a huge number of old and new friends & made some potentially important contacts. I was representing my weekly radio show The New Edge, which broadcasts and webcasts creative instrumental music worldwide, as well as my improvisational second line brass band the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble.
– Ken Field (USA)

It was both inspiring and reassuring to attend JazzAhead; inspiring to see so much great new music and performers at the top of their game and reassuring to spend time with like-minded people experiencing the same challenges.
– Simon Lasky (UK)

JazzAhead was amazing. I am from the America and was encouraged by a promoter in the US as well as a promoter from Russia to attend this conference over MIDEM..

What I enjoyed most about the Jazzahead was the access and ready-availability to decision makers. I wish that I had taken advantage of the Matchmaking Meeting service that JazzAhead offered. I found out about it too late to participate. Lastly, I enjoyed the opportunity to participate in one of the Late night Jam Sessions. As a vocalist (without my band), this gave me a chance to show what I could do with great musicians who happened to be jamming too!
– Myrna Clayton (USA)

It was my first time to attend a conference in Europe, but it was a great event for me. I met some festival organizers, booking agents, publishers and fellow musicians that we happened to talk about collaborations. And thanks to reading the article prior to the festival, I was prepared before I arrived in Bremen.
– Takeshi Asa (JP/USA) 

I felt Jazzahead was a great experience. It was my first time there, and even though I’ve been working with different promoters, festivals and labels for years, I still learned a lot and got some new perspectives about our industry. It was also fun to meet in person some people I’ve only known for a long time online.
– Yuval Ron (DE)

Well, I’m so glad that I came this year – it was my & my country’s Latvia first time in Jazzahead! and I’m so glad that I was there. The atmosphere was absolutely great – so much positive energy and wonderful people at the same place I’ve never seen before. I’m very thankful for the showcases – a wonderful opportunity to hear jazz musicians from all over the world. Invaluable experience! Also great organisation as well as the beautiful Bremen where conference was attended.
Santa Šillere (LV)

The Jazzahead is a must for all professionals linked to the music business. Jazzahead helps you to have a wider perspective of how the European jazz scene is shaped and gives you the opportunity to meet lots of people you can share your passion with. To me, as a musician, it is the perfect environment to show my work to my colleagues, artistic directors and jazz lovers. I am very happy to meet them all every year at the Jazzahead!
– David Pastor (ES)

I thought Jazzahead! was a real eye opener in terms of the industry and seeing how many possibilities there are as a musician. Being from Ireland, we can sometimes feel a little isolated out here on the edge of Europe, so it was great to connect with my European counterparts and also to show what is happening in the Irish jazz scene.
– Chris Guilfoyle, SuperUmbra (IE)

Jazzahead is the biggest and most important meeting for musicians, labels, agencies, media representatives and agents working in the field of jazz. Whether you’re about to take the first steps of starting an international career in Jazz or a seasoned pro, the best way of reaching the right people in the business is travel to Bremen in April.
– Martti Vesala (FI)

Jazzahead is an amazing place to connect and reconnect with friends, fellow artists, and music business representatives from around the world.
– Jonathan Lindhorst (DE)

2017 was first Jazzahead and I was pleasantly surprised that there were so much audience at concerts along with professional Jazzahead participants. That made it ’real jazz experience’ for me, not just showcase. One idea for future.. maybe it would great for musicians that after their gig (or before) they could have a place where it would be easier to meet organizers, promoters, agents. Like 20 minutes or so…
– Teemu Viinikainen (FI)

As always the jazzahead was a very successful event for me and my company Natango Music. In fact it’s not about instant results, but rather ongoing communication with my artistic and business partners. But some achievements are already on the way.
– Heinrich von Kalnein (AT)

Thanks to your site I was well-prepared for it! I had a plan for a visit. I wrote e-mails before and met persons who replied for them first. I went there on Saturday. Everybody was there friendly and rather available. I definitely made good contacts there. The preparation to meet persons and to know more about them before the fair was crucial. *First hour I was overwhelmed but thanks to scheduled meetings I was talking to everyone soon and quickly became self-assured.* I also met heads of Challenge Records in person there (for the first time). It was a great time for me to prepare conceptions for promotion of my new CD. It was a good idea to have a business card with online sampler on it. It worked well.
– Maciej Tubis (PL)

Fantastic annual gathering of musicians, agents and organisations from around the world all meeting together in a very relaxed friendly atmosphere that is highly geared towards giving a leg up to those looking to move forward with their music careers.
– Daniel Weltlinger (DE)


NB: I’m not affiliated with the jazzahead! conference in any way, but as I have been writing about the benefits of going, I wanted to give you – the gigging jazz musician – the point of view of your fellow artists on how useful the event is.

If you have questions, I’m sure you could track down some of these musicians on social media or via their website and maybe they’d be happy to chat.

And, as always, if you are a gigging jazz musician anywhere in the world, you are invited to join the free Jazzfuel mailing list for regular articles, updates and support.

Matt x