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MUSINGS IN Cb: “You Are An Artist AND A Business”

I think that more jazz studies and music programs (in general – large and small alike, urban and rural) across the USA should include a business class core curriculum for all the artists they are training who plan to come out into the world and make a significant portion of their living performing.

As both, a jazz artist/human being and businessman, I understand the importance of this fact in context within the parameters of my own life. Artist business is also vital to the scene because those considerations are on the front lines.

As an example, an artist generally would employ different tactics to promote a new record than to promote selling a band t-shirt. Regardless though, both require advanced planning beyond what it seems that most artists would think is necessary to do. 

Another: If I were to immediately engage in promoting the fact that I have a gig two weeks from today, that would be better than not promoting at all – but, largely inadequate because I have not even given my own “fan base” enough reaction time to include my event in their personal schedules.

Kansas City is one of the places where several forms of “scene building” are being undertaken by both, artists and venues on significant levels. And, non-profit organizations like Charlotte Street Foundation, American Jazz MuseumArts KC Regional Arts Council, and several others are integral parts of the arts infrastructure as well. We do an overall good job, but it seems that regardless of how relatively nice it is for jazz artists in KC most on our scene also understand that everyone can improve.

When I promote and market the venues and activities associated with the jazz museum, I am not marketing a monolithic entity, as most jazz venues typically are. 

I am marketing and promoting a multi-faceted organization that produces a diverse array of well over a hundred arts events alone, each year (a volume similar to the quantity of live performances and training that the typical professional military bands will do). It is pretty cool actually, but lots different than promoting myself as a performing artist doing gigs, etc.

From what I have observed since returning home to the KC scene, there are a limited number of situations to promote as a jazz artist. They might include the following:

STEADY GIGS: If you are one of the artists with a “steady gig” at some venue, promote that fact. Use your personal email list, blog, website and Facebook musician page to say something like: “Every Thursday at (venue name here), etc.” A great example of someone doing this is Lonnie McFadden – join his mailing list and check him out for a free master class on artist promotion on the level we are addressing here.

SPECIALS: If you have been given the honor to perform at one of the top jazz venues in the area like The Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum, then you usually know 6-8 weeks out that you have a date. Since gigs like this don’t happen every month for most artists, you should make a point to promote the fact that you have this cool opportunity to your fan base. Great examples of local artists who pack the Blue Room include: James Ward Band, Roger Wilder and Darcus Gates to name only a few – check out what they do to promote their dates in the BR.

TOURS: If you are touring at any significant level, and want to have an audience in attendance where you perform along the route, you likely have engaged someone as your tour manager, since promotion for tours is usually done on several levels in advance of the actual performances. Check out any of the jazz agency roster artists and their websites for ideas – touring a project requires months of planning at the least.

In our age, artists are more empowered to reach and build audiences. There are so many resources today that connect us to people who love what we do – enough to support and sustain us beyond measure, if you consider the Internet alone.

Many promo resources are free – like Facebook!

Peace, Cb

Chris Burnett – www.BurnettPublishing.com

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Oh. Yes. (Photo Addendum to Original Post) The Hal Galper book is always an excellent and informative resource! Don’t know if anyone needs the book on selling cassettes though … Also, if you are connected with me on Facebook, check out some of the comments to this post there. Some pretty nice feedback.  You can also post comments here.