Local Jazz Gigs: Step One On The Road To International Festivals

If you want tour more and perform at international jazz festivals, working with an agent, manager, publicist and/or record label can be a big advantage.

For these people to get involved though, they first need to see that you are building some interest and momentum yourself.

One area where you can really take control of this is your home city.

Local gigs are a chance to build a buzz, create some press and to show both yourself and people within the industry what stage you are at.

  • Why this gig?

Quite possibly, the actual reason is that you just want to play and to create some press.

But from the audience’s point of view, there should be a more creative motivation for why they should come to this gig. A new record is an obvious reason but outside of an album cycle, you could consider…

  1. a new video
  2. a single/EP (maybe an unreleased track from an old studio session)
  3. a new expanded line-up
  4. a warm-up for your next album
  5. a showcase for new repertoire
  • Prepare a short piece of press text about the project and the gig.

Not only will it help clarify the idea before you speak to promoters, you can use it to promote the show once it has been booked.

  • List the venues 

Note down all the possible venues in town that would work well for your project.

  • Contact the promoters

Explain the concept and ask for a date between 2-6 months in the future, preferably on a Thursday-Saturday.

Note: it helps to explain the ‘reason’ to a promoter so they also have the feeling they need to book you now, rather than just ‘sometime in the future…’

  • Promoter 1-Sheet

As soon as it’s confirmed, send a 1-page PDF to the promoter with exactly the information you want them to use. If you don’t have this ready, there is a free download template here.

  • Get it on the website 

Add the gig to your website, ideally via a (free) service like Songkick which will also post it onto Spotify and various other places across the internet.

  • Announce on social media 

Post about the gig on your Facebook Artist PageTwitter with a link to buy tickets and, ideally, an embedded video or streaming track. If it’s the main upcoming gig, pin it so it stays at the top of your profile.

  • Press release

If you don’t have one already, put together a list of local publications and journalists who write about jazz and send them your text in the form of a press release.

  • Mailout to fans

If you have a fan mailing list, send them a slightly different version of the press text (more familiar & personal than a press release) with a link to buy tickets.

If possible, segment your list so you are only contacting people in the same city or country as the gig.

  • Invite promoters 

Make a list of other promoters in the city and prepare a tweaked version of this email to them, individually, inviting them to come and catch the gig.

Keep this email as a draft until a month before the gig (if you contact too far in the future they might not put it in the diary)

  • Plan your social media campaign

Schedule a series of Facebook posts (directly on Facebook) and tweets (via the free version of Hootsuite) to be released intermittently between announcement and the gig.

@tag the venue and other musicians so that they are reminded to share it with their followers.

Note: you can generally post more often on Twitter than Facebook without annoying followers – and activity on both can become more frequent in the 2 weeks before the show.

  • Help the promoter promote… 

Give the venue a piece of content (new track/video/photo) and ask them to post directly onto their social media feeds.

This can be particularly effective if they have lots more followers than you as it puts you in front of confirmed music fans who might not already know you.

  • Don’t double up! 

Don’t book multiple local gigs within the same half-of-year!

This just splits the audience and splits the impact.

Pick one good one and squeeze as much as you can out of it.

16 thoughts on “Local Jazz Gigs: Step One On The Road To International Festivals”

  1. Hi Matt:) Thanks for the cool info!:) I have a new Jazz CD: Grace Garland-LADY G! available on CDBaby, iTunes, &
    GRACE GARLAND DUO Performs an eclectic blend of #Jazz Standards, Originals & Fun in New York City, THURSDAYS, November 10th 17th AND 24th (THANKSGIVING) at ANYWAY CAFE 34 East 2nd Street (Off 2nd Avenue) 9pm-12am NO cover! #gracegarland #LiveMusic

  2. Thanks for this great opportunity, Matt! Here’s a link to a solo feature I’m doing on Wednesday, Nov 23rd (Thanksgiving Eve), 6-7:30 pm, at Vieux Carre, a New Orleans themed club in St. Paul, MN. For those looking to entertain family and friends the night before Thanksgiving, this is the place to be. Soul-inspiring jazz, creole plates, craft cocktails, and no cover!

    “….right up there with Bill Evans and Bill Charlap.” – Pamela Espeland, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune
    “…an elegant touch that recalls McPartland, Arriale, and Jarrett.” – Andrea Canter, JazzINK.com
    “…lyrical jazz piano brilliance…” – Vieux Carre



Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.