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From a bio to a concert. What to do if the show date is approaching

Aleksandra Line

Practical communication with musicians. Jazz Club manager notes

Vinsents Krebs

There was a time when there was a jazz club in Riga, and I was working in it. I started with some experience in music management, which was more of a specific musician, band, concert, or festival management; nevertheless, it wasn’t just the same as managing a venue where live music sounded 5 to 7 times per week. Apart from all the other duties which the main manager had to take care of, at that time, I was responsible for a connection between the club and musicians — that meant receiving, hearing, and reading neverending applications from those who wanted to perform at the club, sometimes searched for musicians, and later on, was responsible for the well-being of everyone included in this story.

In order for the musician to be happy about his show, the venue to sound well, the tickets sold out, listeners in awe, and club owners to be happy with the result, some glimpse of luck is always needed (meaning many factors align, from the other events in the city up to weather forecast and the audience’s salary dates). And still, apart from luck, a great event can be achieved by quite a simple order of actions. If we sum it up, we can call it preparing a good application and correct communication with the club, which would not only let one’s application be noticed in a huge pile of such but also make the event amazing, as soon as the musician’s noticed.

Although some years have passed since then, it’s time to publish some notes from the jazz club times — each of these seemingly self-evident points is based on a personal experience. All coincidences are intentional, so if you recognize yourself in one of my notes, all we have left is hope that you’ve already taken it into consideration.

1. Is Anything wrong with the word «horizontal»? If I am asking you to send me a horizontal picture of your precious self, even if you don’t have a high-quality portrait, I’m expecting one of at least a normal-quality picture. Not a selfie edited in Paint. Not a square with a PicCollage watermark. Not a vertical picture with a part of your instrument. If you don’t have any experience with event covers, just trust me. Again: is anything wrong with the word «horizontal»?

2. If I’m asking you to send me all the information I need in one email, I’m expecting to receive all the information I need in one email. You send me a picture in a Facebook messenger (you know it spoils the quality, right?), some video links via email, your line-up via iMessage, and your bio as a .docx file via Whatsapp. Honestly? If you lack my attention, just invite me for a coffee, there are chances I would agree.

3. If I’m asking for your promo pack, I need it for making some promotion of yours. While waiting for it, I don’t actually want to learn about your family problems, screaming babies, alcohol excess, sad kittens sitting on your laps right now, going for a date right now (even if I admit she’s beautiful), saving the planet this very second. There are 25 to 30 bands I need to advertise every month. I know I look compassionate, but if at least 20 bands want me to be their private psychiatrist, my hourly rate grows geometrically. If we’re so close, I’m interested in your personal life, you’ll know.

4. Short bio doesn’t mean we start with the year your father was born. There’s a difference between a musician’s bio, a CV, and a job application as well. To make a Facebook event, the main goal of which is to attract the audience to your gig, we don’t need to know you’ve learned Chinese in kindergarten, you love fishing, or you attended a knitting course in high school. Leave that to your date, she’ll think you’re the most versatile person she’s ever met.

5. «Which precise time do I get my food and how many beers can I have» is a sane question, but if you ask it two months before your concert before sending me all the promotional materials, we will make fun of it, I assure you. I also know you love your beer (/wine /whiskey /coffee) so much you cannot survive without it, but taking it on the stage, putting it on top of a super expensive instrument, and sipping it in between the solos isn’t the best way ever to impress any listener with your music. I know you can survive one set on water and inspiration.

6. Speaking of riders, not too many problems with this one; thank you in advance. Speaking of soundchecks, we work in a small jazz club, and our sound guys have learned how it sounds here. That’s not a venue you would need more than an hour to check. Let’s stay honest: if you’re sound-checking for more than two and a half hours in a row, we know you didn’t have your rehearsal.

7. If you’re good, you’re probably playing in a couple or many bands, and that’s fine. If you’re offering to book your new project, a nice short promo video would help. If you’re offering to book your new project and give you the best night and pay you a hellish lot of money while saying you’re having a sax player from that first video, a drummer from the second, and it will sound like… well, just google Miles Davis, and you’ll get an impression — no one bothers. We do have a nice imagination (we need all of it to believe in a jazz club’s future), but we do need your nice short promo video.

So, many years have passed since this short tutorial was written, but there’s still no proper jazz club in Riga (with all respect to the venues that regularly invite jazz to their stages). And (sadly laughing to myself) this isn’t because we haven’t believed in the jazz club. Nevertheless, there are quite a lot of venues and events in the world, and all of them would appreciate it if you’re attentive, pay attention to the context, and take care of at least these words of mine above. Feel free to add important points of your own — I’ll appreciate it as well.