As a manager of jazz artists for the past 30 years, it became clear to me that when we think of venues where we can place our clients, we think of the obvious places; 1) jazz clubs, 2) jazz festivals, colleges and universities and 3) performing arts centers. In truth, jazz managers make the majority of their money from placing their artists in those venues. However, there are so many other venues that one could explore and I want to invite, incite artists to consider thinking of those venues as well. There are two reasons for that. The average salary for jazz musicians is $23,000 per year as reported in a study. For a married musician with children, that places him/her squarely at the level of poverty. But there are venues right under our noses that could increase the opportunity for jazz musicians to work and I am dedicated to finding them and eventually gathering them into one database for musicians to mine.
There are libraries, hospitals, house concerts, cruises and corporate jobs just to name a few venues that present jazz. Classical music has grappled with the same issues and some people created an organization called “Groupmuse”. This organization is a clearinghouse for house concerts where the musicians are offered a minimum fee of approximately $150 with the hope of increasing those numbers as the organization grows. This same organization sometimes organizes “Massivemuses” where they present music in a larger setting. This gives the lover of classical music many more choices to hear the music while at the same time, creating performing and income opportunities for the classical player. I think this same kind of thing can be done with jazz musicians.
In January, 2017, at the JazzConnect Conference, I moderated a panel called “Alternative Venues for Presenting Jazz”. The panel consisted of Gerri Abrahamsen who books corporate performances, Andrew Rothman who books house concerts, Bruce Labadie who books jazz in a variety of community organizations as well as the San Jose Jazz Festival, and Viola Plummer, who books jazz in Brooklyn at a community space. The audience was filled to capacity, asking questions about how to present and offering advice about venues in which they had successfully presented jazz. Afterwards, I created a facebook group called “Alternative Venues for Jazz” and now have over 1000 members of the group.