Aaron Liddard, a multifaceted saxophonist who takes on numerous roles such as musician, bandleader, sideman, composer, arranger, teacher, and general hustler, chose to attend the jazzahead! conference in Bremen independently, as there was no official UK stand this year. After two previous disappointing visits, a friend persuaded him to give it another go, and this time, the experience proved to be a positive one.
A Two-in-One Event
jazzahead! is a unique event that merges two distinct experiences: a one-night explosion of gigs across the historic city of Bremen and a three-day networking opportunity for those involved in the business side of jazz.
While many jazz musicians might shy away from the concept of “the business of jazz,” the reality is that it’s a necessary part of sustaining a career in music. Some musicians have managed to excel in both the creative and business aspects of their careers, including legends like Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Prince, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Herbie Hancock, and Quincy Jones.
The Business of Jazz and Its Challenges
jazzahead! brings together people from all corners of the jazz world, including representatives from countries, collectives, festivals, manufacturers, bookers, musicians, agents, managers, and labels. It’s an international gathering that facilitates networking, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas.
However, the current climate for jazz clubs and venues is challenging, with many struggling to take risks on new artists and ambitious projects. The pandemic has hit grassroots venues and volunteer promoters hard, with constantly changing lockdown rules leading to funding cuts and closures. Additionally, audiences have become more accustomed to streaming content from home rather than attending live events.
Despite these challenges, jazzahead! also provides a platform for building new relationships and reconnecting with old friends. Business, like music, is a personal endeavor, and everyone approaches it differently.
Aaron Liddard’s Debut as Leader at Ronnie Scott’s
After his positive experience at jazzahead!, Aaron Liddard is looking forward to making his debut as a leader on the main stage at Ronnie Scott’s for the Late Late Show on June 9th and 10th. This event will showcase Liddard’s wide-ranging talents as he steps into the spotlight.
How to Approach jazzahead!
Aaron Liddard’s experiences at jazzahead! offer some valuable advice for those considering attending in the future. Setting up meetings beforehand is often recommended, but being open to impromptu connections and networking opportunities can also lead to fruitful collaborations.
Another approach is to present yourself as a festival organizer, booker, or agent, rather than focusing solely on your musical talents. However, it’s important to strike a balance between ambition and what you can realistically offer. Ultimately, if you’ve been working hard at your music for years and still haven’t made significant progress, it may be time to explore the business side of the industry further.