Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Jazz in Europe

Although I've performed a few times in Europe, I'd really love to do a tour there someday.  So far I've worked in Germany, Greece, Italy and Russia but always for one off-events.

I've never worked in Spain - actually I've never even been to Spain (especially shocking for someone British!) - but I had some great news last week.  I was contacted by a company who wants to license one of my tracks - Tainted Love - for distribution in Spain.  Yay!  I only hope it will lead to performing there in the near future...

And in other European news -  I'll be going back to Greece twice this year.  Once in July to play an open air concert in Athens and back again in August to perform at the Tinos Jazz Festival.  Can't wait to soak up some of that sun!

Monday, 2 May 2011

How to Plan and Organise a Successful UK Jazz Tour - Lessons Learnt

Thought I'd share some of the lessons I learned from my recent UK tour.  Hopefully you'll get some tips from the things I did in the right way and avoid my mistakes!

CD Sales - Sales were definitely down compared to previous tours.  I did notice an increase in digital sales which was probably also due to the tour publicity but sadly with Spotify and Rhapsody sales which can sometimes amount to less that 1p per track this wasn't exactly a money spinner!  There was also the fact that the CD I was selling was my previous Licorice Kiss album - I did a couple of songs from this album on the tour but the majority was new material not yet recorded.  In hindsight, maybe it's better to tour with a relevant album because with the lack of music stores, sales of albums at gigs are an important revenue stream.

Radio - I was extremely pleased with the level of response I had from radio stations, especially BBC Local radio.  I did 5 interviews in total which is more than I've had from any of my previous tours.  Yay!  All of these I got by sending emails with my press release 3 months before my tour.  Probably also worth following up again just before the tour starts.

Press - Also got some great press which included Jazzwise, Jazz UK and some local newspapers too.  One of the interviews I did (Crawley Observer) wasn't printed which was a disappointment and interestingly that gig was the worst attended.  I wonder if there's a correlation..?  I was also disappointed that there were no reviews but it's so difficult to get journalists to come out to a gig if you're not one of the hot "flavour of the month" musicians/bands or a very established name.  I am neither! 

Finances - In retrospect I don't think I should have had so many door deals because this put a real pressure on my finances and caused me a lot of stress.  Added to this, even with sold out gigs, the door deals were so bad that despite maximum attendance, I still came away with less than £300 for the band.  In future, if there is a door deal, I will make sure that the percentages work out so that the potential revenue makes doing the gig worthwhile.   You need to take account of hidden costs too like money the venue charges for publicity, PRS and VAT!  I didn't make any money on the tour in the end but at least I didn't make a loss which I know many bandleaders have experienced recently as it is only fair to pay the band properly whether you make any money on the gig or not.  It has to be said though, if I hadn't had a bit of help from Jazz Services, I would definitely have made a loss.

Musicians - I'm very lucky to work with some excellent musicians.  It's important to be flexible though because sometimes musicians get offered lucrative tours and are unavailable or there may be unexpected events that means you need to find a dep with very short notice.  Both of these things happened to me but fortunately there were some great replacements and it all went very smoothly.  Definitely important to have a "B list" of musicians on each instrument so that you have someone (who knows your music) to call if your band member is unavailable.

Summary - On the whole, I was very pleased with the tour and extremely grateful for the financial support I received from Jazz Services.  Several sold out gigs and full houses and quite a bit of publicity which all helps with raising the profile.  Now I'm looking forward to taking some time out to write some new songs and also to work on some new projects.  Will keep you posted!

Please feel free to comment or ask questions below and I will help if I can.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Kuala Lumpur - My first trip to the Far East

Had a great time in KL.  Wonderful people, a great local band, beautiful hot weather and excellent food.  Who could ask for anything more?!

Alexis Bar
Bit of a shock to see all the posters of my face everywhere!
Mmm...  I sampled many of their famous puddings - all scrumptious!
The Twin Petronas Towers - one of the main landmarks in KL - photo taken from the back of a taxi on my way to Chinatown

Chinatown!  My first shopping trip

Just loved the atmosphere here - mostly fake goods but lots of fun haggling with stall holders
Gabe the pianist from the band and his friends introduced me to this kitsch Indian restaurant where all the food was served on banana leaves!
Central Market - another shopping trip!
I love markets - especially the beautiful colours

Couldn't be persuaded to let tiny fish give me a pedicure by eating the dead skin off my feet...
... but was tempted by these clogs.  They're handpainted and were made specially to fit me by the shoemaker while I waited!
And I felt very pleased with myself for taking the local bus back - it was a feast for the senses with the smells, loud music, chatter, bumpy eratic driving and conducter shouting out to the people on the pavements!
The equivalent of the cards we sometimes see in telephone boxes in London - a message with a name and phone number.  Interesting that they only charged RM15 (the equivalent of £3)!!!
One of the many monkeys that live in the grounds of a friend's house where I was invited to dinner.  So cute!