The Secret of professional jazz radio promoters!

There isn’t a secret!  It’s about Knowledge and Work… There is a proven processthat will guarantee results.  I have taught young and old this process.  A few have JazzWeekactually turned the process into a business. So here is the process that I use and if you cannot afford the $2,000 to $3,000 professional jazz promoters charge the just Do It Your Self – DIY.

  • Get the radio lists and prepare the mailing –
    • You can simply buy the lists from someone, find some one to give them to you, You can also subscribe to the two major tracking systems, Jazz CMJWeek ( and The College Music Journal ( There is a price for subscribing for tracking like I do but to get the lists you can create them by adding them to your contact database one by one.  Tracking is an important element but generally you can find out a lot by googling results or hacking around the websites. Less detail but good stuff.
    • Take these contacts and merge them onto mailing labels.
    • Buy mailiers. DO NOT BUY from retail stores.  There are a lot of websites that will sell them wholesale for 17 to 23 cents.  I use self adhesive bubble CD mailers. You will need about 200 or more for core radio.
  • Create the one-sheet - 
    • Do not send radio more than one-sheet of information along with the CD. A one-sheet should have one or two pics including the CD cover, title of CD and who is onRadioPromo it, maybe where recorded if relevant, a short bio and description of the the CD, possibly the tune list with times, release date, contact info, catalog number and UPC number. Thats it.  When you do emails to the stations you can put a pdf of this doc as an attachment in your first press release.  Remember the stations are getting about 100 plus per week so thats a lot of paper that winds up in the round file. Also you can print in color but I quit doing that with the advent of PDF attachments.  I email color version and print in black and white.  About a third of the cost.
  • Buy Postage - 
    • THIS IS THE KILLER!  It keeps going up.  I have talked to many promoters and many have different methods and material that they use to try and keep this cost down.  For me I find that if I do 2 or 3 CDs and put on $2.25 I get the fewest of returns for more postage.  The US postal system has about as many answers for what the correct postage as who you ask.  IF you take a mailier like this to the post office they will definitely weigh it and charge you $2.85 to $3.25.  If you just buy stamps or use like I do you can get away with $2.25 for more than one and $1.85 for one CD.  This is from my experience only.  So do the addition and you can see why many promoters charge a pretty good fee for their work if they do the mailing.  Some promoters will actually send you the labels one time and have you do the mailing and then discount their labor.
  • Stuff and mail - 
    • I used to do all of this myself, eek!  Now I hire interns but it can make a nice movie and pizza  night.  MY ADVICE – do not take all of these packages into the front door of a post office.  They may make you weigh each one and charge more.  In Chicago I have a couple of POs that are  used to bulk mail and I take to the back door and load them into a cart for the workers.  I have also been known to just take a couple of days and hit several street drops till they are gone.  It works!
  • Email Press Release - 
    • Now, cut and paste from your one-sheet into an email the cd cover jp, artist description/bio text, release date, and contact info. Put some intro text saying some nice stuff. Attach the one-sheet and do a mass email to all of the radio stations. BE SURE AND BLIND CARBON (BCC) the stations.  I can not believe the number of mass email blasts that artists send me that have 50 to 100 names in the CC column showing me everyone they are sending to.
  • Follow up -
    • Wait a week, then do a follow up email without the one-sheet attached. Do this every week for about 4 or 6 weeks and then access where you are, what responses you have recieved, etc.  Start Googling daily the artist’s name, CD name in quotes, and the word radio.  You should start seeing some playlists by station or program.
    • Phone calls.  If you have the will power then you can go to every stations website if you only got the basic contact list and look up the jazz programmers call times. If you subscribed to hacked the sites and got all of the info then you are set.  Do you want to call…  That is up to the amount of effort that you want to put in to it.  You will find many jazz programmers who are very open and generally very dedicated to jazz and like to help artists.  They may not play your CD. When I started I would call Gary Walker at WBGO NYC/Newark NJ and get his voice mail. He would actually call me back even though he did not know me and would talk for 10 or 15 minutes. He didn’t add my CDs to rotation but he got to know me.  Eventually I had some artists that he dug and he started adding some to airplay.

So this is a long post but I think it gives you enough info to get into the game.  I wish you the best and as  you know my door is open, email is on.  Let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

PS – If you want to try this I have the the vetted best data for all of radio avail along with other very important data bases.  Go to the BARGAIN MENU button at the top of the blog and take a look :)  I am serious, it is a really great deal!

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The ultimate package for you! Get Airplay, Press, Club Gigs, Festivals, and Concerts!

So, many of you know that besides being a guitarist and vocalist, I own a record label and promotion company, Blujazz Label and Promotions. BUT did you know that I also do all of the radio and press promotion for Blujazz and for a small subset of the roster I do management and booking. Over the last 15 years I have definitely made my mistakes and had my failures but overall I have had incredible experiences and reached remarkable highs.  This is not an easy business.  Recently I have met and watched so many young artists coming out of school who want to rush to put out that first CD and who are struggling find out the best way to “get my music out there”.  They check around with other artists as to who to go to and where to spend the hard-earned money that they have. I am one of the people who take their money.  Hopefully I am able to help them take a step up the ladder and impart some knowledge as to the realities of the business.

Please don’t get me wrong. There some really hard-working talented promotion people out there that generally deserve the dollars that they charge.  Most have developed relationships as I have over the years with radio and press professionals and are able to help an artist crack open some doors. I remember after gaining some experience and relationships over the years a wonderful radio programmer in Cleveland,at WCPN, Bobby Jackson, who passed recently, told me “Greg, we are getting 100 CDs per week. We trust you because you understand how we curate our airplay”.   So for those that can afford these great promoters and want to just let go and go back to playing their music then they should go for it.

BUT!  I have thought long and hard on this. What about those just out of school who have about enough money through Kick Starter or Indigogo projects to record a CD and get 1000 pressed. What about the college jazz director at the hundreds of colleges in the country, or the “war veteran artist” who has spent a ton of money putting out CDs but wants to do more and just doesn’t have the money.  I believe that the changing jazz industry is pushing more of us in to the DIY (Do it yourself) movement.

So yes I am still taking on artists and I generally charge between $2,000 to $3,500 for a radio/press package (what many promoters charge for only one area).  So why am I telling you this???

I have now designed a package for the DIY (Do It Yourself) artist that will give them the same contacts that I promote to or solicit for bookings.  This is data that I not only pay monthly and yearly subscription  fees for but that I am constantly massaging as it tends to be very voliatile. Some say I am crazy for selling it so cheaply but I say two things. To keep jazz alive we need to enable those that are trying to keep it alive. And I know that I have the experience and relationships to do great work for those that do not want to do it on their own.

So please see the menu item on THE BARGAIN if you are interested.  I am selling in excel files 6 databases of radio, press, jazz clubs, festivals, and concert contacts for the LOW PRICE of $250.  I am also offering free consulting to anyone that asks and there questions are reasonable.

I truly look forward to talking to you,



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“I have heard that Europe would really like my music…” Part 2

In this post I want to show and explain the 2 major European jazz conferences that have Jazz Ahead PAO Recordsattendance of over 3000 bookers, managers, jazz artists, presenters, with expo hall booths, showcases, networking meetings, etc.

If you want to understand what is going on in jazz in Europe and truly want to make Europe happen for you and you can afford it then you should attend one.  I will explain and present the two most important ones for US artists in two separate posts and then a summary of other important possibilities in a 3rd post.

First – The Jazzahead Conference – Bremen Germany  – April 2015

I will start with the Jazz Ahead Conference in Bremen Germany because I have attended, in fact we were one of the first label/artists/promoters who attended, set up a booth, and showcased. Our Blujazz Label and Promotions artist, jazz violinist, Diane Delin, showcased and booked the Guinness Cork Ireland Jazz Fest as the dir of the fest attended. This was 6 years ago and we plan to go back this year. We couldn’t afford it until again until now because of the loss of our Jazz Club.  Ah cest la vie.

So Jazz Ahead’s own words:

About us

jazzahead! is the most important international jazz trade show, incl. its integrated showcase festival. For the past eight years, the
trade fair has been steadily growing.

The showcase festival features top-class jazz from Germany, Europe and beyond and has established itself as one of the most important international networking spaces for jazz musicians. Bands that perform here have previously submitted an application and have been selected by a jury of experts.

jazzahead! 2014 facts and figures:

  • more than 700 exhibiting companies from 38 countries
  • more than 2,500 registered delegates from 50 countries
  • (business activities of participants included: artists, bookers, labels, agencies, publishers, distributors, production companies, instrument manufacturers, press,institutions, associations, and more)
  • over 100 concerts and showcases on more than 30 stages all throughout the city
  • over 12,500 visitors to the concerts and showcases
  • more than 230 registered media and press representatives

But jazzahead! is not just a „must-go event“ for the international jazz industry – it is a cultural festival for any jazz lover. While the jazz scene meets, exchanges ideas and does business, the public is right there amidst the action.

In addition to the trade events, jazzahead! features a broad range of musical and cultural events that are organized in cooperation with numerous arts & culture institutions in Bremen:

the Partner Country Program: gala concerts, film screenings, exhibtions, theater, literature, dance and lots more present jazzahead!‘s partner country‘s culture and art scene over a span of a few weeks. Following this year‘s partner country Denmark, in 2015 France will present itself at jazzahead!

SO, So at this point many US major booking agencies, managers, and artists showcase or attend as well as 38 other countries of the same people.  It is a place to exhibit and showcase that is a process and costs lots of money but it is also an event that you can just attend and the networking possibilities are enormous.


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The Bullet List Repeat

I weekly answer about 5 to 8 queries asking what my Blujazz Label and PromotionMusician-Cartoons business is about, how do we do we work with artists,  how do we compare with other independents, what our costs are, how does our booking arm work, etc.  I look at each artist’s questions and I can generally get a feel for what their experience is in the jazz business world.  I  try to give them a quick paragraph on what we are currently working on, a bullet list overview of how we work (we are definitely a different label and promotion paradigm) and lastly tell them if they are still interested I will send them our Basic Blujazz Proposal, and from there we can add or subtract ingredients to make a project for them.

Now, I’m not trying to sell Blujazz here because there are actually 4 or 6 other labels that are doing paradigms that are, like us, different than the traditional labels.  And there is a strong movement into DIY (I will sell here as we do sell all of the needed databases).  But I do find that my bullet list always lists the basics that any artist needs, whether someone capitalizes the project, DIY’s the project, works with a new paradigm label, or some combination of these areas. Let me list the bullets for you and see what you think:

  • Record a CD
  • Create CD packaging design and manufacturing
  • Do National Radio Promotion
  • Do National Press/Publicity Promotion
  • Create distribution whether it be physical or digital or both
  • Do Advertising
  • Book Gigs
  • Do it again

One could write a book about each of these areas but basically an artist needs to do something in each category at varying levels.  And this all costs MONEY!  I see musicians that are close pooling their $$s, many crowd funding projects are run, grandma and grandpa, friends and family donating, working wives or husbands assisting (oh boy).  Artists will find a way and I truly salute these artists who love what they do and want to “get it out there”.  You know….I am a believer and still believe there is always a way.

So WHEW!  A “friggin lot of work”  and I still do it all for 12 to 14 artists per year plus go through the pain of trying help some artists get gigs.   One has to truly  LOVE the music to even want to go through this as a promoter and as an artist.  One caveat is I also do it for my wife, Jazz Violinist Diane Delin and for my self as an artist. So I truly feel the pain!

So why is my business growing??  One of the main reasons is the jazz education system has grown tremendously. Because of the advancement of University based jazz programs, private jazz schools, organizations like The Jazz Education Network, The Jazz Journalist Association, the many large and small jazz supporting non-for profits like The Chicago Jazz Institute, Chamber Music America,  Doris Duke Grants, or the many jazz festivals that now have an education component involved, the many presenting organizations that get  funding grants that require a educational component to their programming, yes lady and gentlemen, we are pumping new “jazzers” out and yes we are an economy albeit small, a lot of cash flows through it..  So many of the artists coming out of school, working in the above systems, doing their research on where to put their hard earned money still do not have realistic expectations from the results and what to do with those results. I actually have about an 70/30% success rate a varying levels.  But folks, that 30% of effort that doesn’t create something visable for an artists truly creates pain for the artist and for me.  I am pretty good at what I do but I can not make people like an artist’s music particularly when radio and press are getting about 100 CDs per week.  In future posts I will spend a lot more time about those results and expectations.

Is it important to do the bullet list? Yes is the simple answer. What happens when one gets the results is much more complicated and we will talk about these issues in future posts.

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The updated Jazz Artists Survival Guide blog and a Free Book!

I have updated the Jazz Artist’s Survival Guide to reflect my desire to help others in this ever evolving Jazz World.  The new site offers:

  • A FREE pdf copy of the Jazz Artist’s Survival Guide for signing up to my newsletter
  • Free consulting on any topic in the Jazz World that I can offer some help in, Promotion, Booking, Recording, etc
  • A weekly post about my past, present, and future adventures and experiences in the world of jazz promotion, marketing, performances, recording, touring, and more
  • The ability to purchase the best databases for DIY promoting CDs and booking gigs
  • The chance to donate to my cause to keep helping others find their way in this crazy business
  • A portal to my Blujazz Label and Promotions business with great offers

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

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“I have heard that Europe would really like my music…” Part I

“I have heard that Europe would really like my music!”  Part I

I wish I had a couple of bucks for evertime I have heard this from artist’s that I talk to.

Jazz Ahead Conf Bremen German

Jazz Ahead Conf Bremen Germany

 And you know what, they just might be right.  But first there needs to be a heavy reality check.  Times have changed and so has Europe.

There was a period when Europe had a heavy love affair with American jazz artists as well as Blues artists.  I am not a jazz historian but in summary somewhere after 1945 during the years of Bop (1945-1950), Cool (1950-1955), Hard Bop (1955-1960), Free Jazz/Avant Garde (1960s), and Fusion/Jazz Rock (1970s) jazz was held up as almost a pop music in Europe where it was fertile ground for American jazz recording arists (I use the term recording artists to mean the time when record labels paid for recordings, promoted them and even gave tour support)  to be booked for concerts and clubs, press conferences, etc for good fees with there music being played on radio and eventually TV). Many of the great classic great jazz artists of which the majority were Afro-American (The Afro-American roots of jazz which we take for granted in the U.S. didn’t really exist in Europe) that we now use as role models actually moved to Europe for a part of their lives and some for the rest of their lives as Europe could support their art much better then America. These artist included  Sidney Bechet,  Kenny Clarke, Arthur Taylor, Bud Powell, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin,. Racial tension was less pronounced and European audiences were far more appreciative.  The number of artists living in Paris has become legendary with several movies written about those times.

By the 1980s there were more notable Euopean jazz personalities and styles from many of the European countries. Some had come through be-bop, while the new generation was affected by free jazz and Coltrane as well as fusion. By that decade, jazz education was well on its way throughout Europe. In fact, the 80s represented a virtual explosion of interest in jazz with more combinations of European and American musicians. There had always been a tradition of an American soloist(usually a horn player) playing with a European rhythm section. That trend increased during the 80s when even lesser known musicians were being invited to play with Europeans. At this point I will withdraw myself from the history of Jazz in Europe and give you what I think is a pretty definitive essay on the subject from non other than US Saxophonist Dave Liebman

 So where are we now:

Stay tuned for Part II as I will give you some insight into what my experiences have been over the last 5 years in Europe.


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The Jazz Artist Promotion Pie

Jazz Week National Jazz Chart showing Jerry Vivino

Jazz Week National Jazz Chart showing Jerry Vivino

I have been catching up on responding to emails and phone requests about our Blujazz Label and Promotion company’s services that include radio and press promotion, physical and digital distribution, booking contacts, and selective management.  Part of my rap as to discussing whether Blujazz would be good for them or they for Blujazz is almost rote though I change it to emphasize different aspects depending upon the artist’s needs and experience. I have been doing this work for a long time with highs and lows but generally we do very well for artists.

Thinking about this I wanted to do a quick blog and show how I visualize this quickly with artists.  I have longer explanations in different posts and I also suggest that one should get  my new book “The Jazz Artist’s Survival Guide Book”   for free at this blog for just about everything an artist should know about this business and a huge resource/contact section.

So, how I relate it quickly is to describe the needs of a jazz artist as a simple pie chart divided into a few pertinent  sections.  One has to spend time in each section of the pie completing tasks over and over, adding ingredients, making improvements, cooking it slowly and over time this pie recipe starts getting major attention creating a upward path for the artist.  Maybe a little too dramatic but that’s the way I think. Below are the sections of the pie and ingredients that I ask questions about and give my input about:

  • Artist’s Level
    • Education  Level
    • Recording and CD Production Experience
    • Performance Experience
    • Artist’s goals
    • Financial Security Level
  • Recordings
    • Understanding of the recording process
    • How many recordings completed, promoted, and distributed.
  • Radio Promotion
    • Understanding of the radio promotion process
    • How many CDs promoted
  • Press Promotion
    • Understanding of the press promotion process
    • How many CDs promoted
  • Distribution
    • Understanding of the distro process
    • How man CDs distributed
  • Performances
    • Understanding of the “get the gig” process
    • How much is the artist playing and at what level of venue
  • Advertising, Social Sites, Email Lists, Branding
    • Understanding of each of these areas and the costs and time involved

As our conversation progresses with me asking these questions and I start getting an idea of the where the artist is in the jazz world I can then advise the artist as to the best directions for his future. Probably the most important point I try to get across to an artist is this theme, “Being a successful jazz artist is a lifetime process”!

I also like the quote, “failure plus failure plus failure plus failure = SUCCESS!”  Keep doing it over and over and love it.

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Are “Major Record Labels” Relevant

Recently NPR’s A Blog Supreme Blog had a blog on “Do Major Jazz Record Labels Matter”. jazzlabels I think it is a interesting question for the global jazz artist community.  I believe in many ways we are way past this question. Besides the headliners on the “major jazz festivals” around the world who could name more then 5 jazz artists, particularly new artists, who are on a major label?  The “Big Four” are EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group and when you see the word group we realize that what we have is a financially based investment corporation that puts together a group of smaller labels that have proven to have some financial success.  Its a lot like a financial mutual fund.  So if the record company in the fund is not making money it is dropped from the group or torn apart and remade.  So for we global jazz artists that have learned to survive with out this phenomena it has been irrelevant for a long time.  We have had to learn to find the funds to record, market, and book ourselves for so long it has be come our “norm”.

But before we write them off, lets take a look at the Pros and Cons of the “Major Record Label”:

Pros -

1. They have deep pockets and can do a lot of advertising and promotion along with booking and tour support.  My experience is that unless you are already a money maker like Herbie Hancock, this ain’t going to happen.  The artist has to prove that they can make the label money.

2. They have connections that they have built up over years.  If you are a Blue Note artist under Universal you might be able to hook up with the booking agency Ted Kurland who has handled a lot of Blue Note artists.  But again, unless the artist has a proven track record Ted Kurland will have to convince venues that this artist can put “butts in the seats” and that Blue Note will help promote the artist.

3. Size – because of the money they can spend if they choose to, then you may get a quicker review in a trade that they are putting full page adv. in on a regular basis.  Never bring this up with a trade as they will always tell you that editorial is kept separate from adv dollars……..hee hee hee.


1. Big Pond, Small Fish – you are competing on your own label with a lot of artists who may have proven track records.

2. Continuity – Maybe you have a big fan at the label who has been shepherding  you through the maze.  Major labels are very famous for shaking up staff and if that person gets on the “the bad side” or leaves the label you are possibly on the shelf particularly if you are still in the building stages.

3. Unfriendly deals – please know that these labels are like banks and any monies that are spent you, you now owe against any profits that you make. And your royalty rate is going to be pretty low if you are new to the world.  And there is that heavy chance you will be releasing a lot of creative control, in art work, music, etc.

Another note is that jazz CD sales have fallen as most retail has the ability of a Major Label to distribute the CD’s music has been equaled by the digital universe.  Digital sales have overtaken physical sales and most artists can get aggregators to distribute at the same level.

So this is why many many jazz artists have actually chosen smaller independent labels where there is more care and passion about the artist, better financial deals, and less tying up of intellectual property and careers.   Next we will take a look at the wide range of independent record labels and what they offer and how this can open up a artists career.

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House Concerts??

houseconcertAs you know we are exploring all of the possibilities of jazz performances and how a jazz artist can create opportunities to get these gigs. As we continue to see, “it ain’t easy”.  As far as I can analyse in my experience we have 5 performance venues (each as a range of levels):

  • Clubs – dining, just jazz, small localized, national recognized artist
  • Festivals – regional, regional cities large city oriented, national
  • Performing Arts Centers – arts councils, cities, universities, private

As we have discussed and continue to discuss each of these have their processes and challenges for artists of all levels to book.  But this post is to discuss a NEW type of gig that has been gaining popularity through out the world and opens the door to tremendous poossibilities for the jazz artist. The House Concert. 

What is a House Concert?
It’s an invitation-only concert in someone’s home, presented by a host who does not
profit from the event.

Most house concerts are:

• held indoors and on weekends
• attended by 20-50 people
• paid for by a $10-20 donation per guest (to the performer)
• known to include light snacks, beverages or a pot-luck dinner
• attended by the host’s friends, neighbors, co-workers, and maybe a few fans of the
• attended by a 25-60 age group
• performed by solo acts, duos and small groups
• performed with a very small sound system or no amplification
• very intimate — the audiences sit close and are attentive
• performed in two, 40-minute sets with a 20-minute break
•stronger for artist’s merchandise sales than traditional venues
• known to house and feed the artist for the night

House concerts hold a place of esteem in jazz history and are making a comeback today. In 1920s Harlem they were “rent parties,” where the likes of Fats Waller played in the apartments of people hosting music and dance parties literally to raise money for the rent.  In the 1970s, musicians pushing the frontiers of jazz weren’t making it on the shrinking club scene. Musicians like Anthony Braxton and Oliver Lake found private loft concerts a more viable way to present their music.

House concerts have become popular across the country once again, so much so that Down Beat magazine, Minnesota Public Radio, and The New York Times have reported on the trend in cities from New York and Washington to Atlanta, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Check out our new resource guide for a comprehensive guide to how to run a house concert and where they exist.

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The Flea Markets

2014-01-12 16.32.16So I am getting back into the “flea markets of gigs”,  the US national booking conferences sponsored by presenter organizations. We are going to the National in NYC Jan 10-14th called APAP  The Association of Performing Arts Presenters.  Whew, what a “black hole $$s).  More on that later.  There are 3 major regional conferences in the early fall and then the national in Jan in NYC. What happens there if you can  skinny up da money?

The conference is held at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan, what was that song “money money money”  Approximately 400 plus presenters from around the US attend that include majors like The Lincoln Center to smaller arts organizations from all over. Also, European and Asian arts organizations attend to either sell their artists or look for performers. The conference is for all areas of performing arts not just jazz.  Jazz is a solid component though of what is sold. In fact Lee Mergner, the publisher of Jazz Times, helps produce a pre conference program called Jazz Connect that is geared towards helping the jazz industry look at the future of jazz and artists to understand the DIY (Do It Yourself) concept.

The senariao basically is that the APAP organizes networking oportunities for presenters with workshops, speakers, etc . A large exhibit hall is setup and we sellers, managers, booking agents, artists, etc. buy booths and present our stuff at dedicated hours. Within that the latter can create showcases either in the hotel or through out NYC (1,600) last year. The showcases are an added expense.   We also get a great database of presenters that we can continue to develop relationships with past the conference. This is a very short summary of what goes on so go to the site to find out more.

Why do we want to spend $2,500 to join APAP, register for the conference, and buy a booth, decorate the booth, put together promotional materials and more?  Simply this, presenters are one of the few places that artists can get paid a decent fee and be treated as an artist. What do we have…. presenters and festivals.  Clubs do not pay unless you have a established name/following and if you do then you are probably already being represented at these conferences by a established company. And if you can get two hits (usually $1000 to $10,000) you can get your money back, network with a whole lot of people that want to know (maybe some you do not) and continue to build your career.

Since Blujazz Label and Promotions have added the booking arm we are getting into this game.  We will rep our whole roster with two emphases since we are a cooporative company. Those who helped us set up financially will be accented and those who are financially setting up showcases will get the obvious extra attention.  This year at APAP we have Chicago guitarist Paul Kogut, LA Guitarist Doug MacDonald, Chicago vocalist Sam Fazio, Chicago Saxophonist Kevin Kizer, Boston percussionist Zeke Martin, NYC bassist Francois Moutin, and Chicago violinist Diane Delin plus the rest of our roster.

There is so much more and I would be lying if I told you I was not excited about the possibilities!

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