I weekly answer about 5 to 8 queries asking what my Blujazz Label and Promotions 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.