A Day At JazzAhead!

9am: Wake up. I’ve decided to forego breakfast at the hotel because it means I can do some work in my hotel room instead and we have to man the stand from 10am until 8pm. I have a meeting set up for 11am and I’ve just realised no-one has told me where the meeting is. Furiously and fervently type things until I leave the hotel.

10.30am: Swing by our stand to say hello, drop off stuff and retrieve water. This hall dehydrates you and there’s a risk I’ll leave looking like a raisin. Found out where the meeting is – the French stand.

11.00am: In the meeting – we’re discussing potential for jazz cultural exchanges between Scotland, Estonia, Belgium, France, Germany and Sweden. It’s not only Jazz from Scotland round this table; Creative Scotland and Glasgow Jazz Festival: the Scottish Jazz ecosystem distilled. Most useful for me is hearing how other countries fund jazz – the actual schemes they run and trying to figure out how we can adopt or adapt those ideas for us.

12.30pm: Heather and I are off to meet with Dave Morecroft to talk about Jazz100 and what our plans could be for future JazzAheads – getting more UK and Irish bands here to play being a priority. Meeting is great; I wish Dave Morecroft was Prime Minister. This meeting was scheduled in a highly strategic manner – the French stand has wine at 12.30pm and our meeting location is cleverly….next to the French stand.

3.30pm: Clare and I meet with Sue Edwards to discuss Made in the UK in Rochester, NY. The passing of the great John Ellson shocked us all and Sue undertook the extraordinary task of looking ahead and making a plan for how to continue helping UK artists get into the US and Canadian scene. The great thing to hear is that Sue’s plan has Scotland and Scottish artists firmly in mind. This is what this event is great for; face to face time with all of the people you only ever communicate with on email. Big plans can be made in a 10 minute conversation that would take 3 months of emails.

4.00pm: All hands on deck for our daily drinks reception. To put this into perspective – this event is in a giant, high ceilinged square room populated by 100 stalls. On Wednesday, these 100 stalls look identical – white boards with 3 chairs, a desk and one small table. Everyone arrives here with their agenda – to book artists for their festival, to get gigs for their band. For us – to spread the word about the Scottish jazz scene and signpost people to information and to talk to organisations from other countries about potential collaboration, performance and twinning opportunities. There are over 3,000 delegates here and it’s an impossible task to seek out everyone. So instead, you work to get the people to come to YOU. This is done in two ways – make your stand visually attractive to grab attention and host daily events at a certain time during which you invite people to come to your stand, partake in a drink and start having conversations. We all know that organic conversations, chats in bars and friendly introductions by mutual friends is vital to developing any business or industry.

So this is how our drinks reception works – everyone who visits our stand fills in a form on our ipads. They tell us what they are (musician, broadcasters, festival bookers etc) and what they’re interested in – booking bands, playing in Scotland, playing music on radio. Then we give them a download card which contains all of the tracks Scottish jazz artists submitted. And then, we share a dram and talk about jazz. We talk 10am until 8pm about how much everyone in the building is passionate about this artform and are dedicated to making things happen. We share contact details and then next week, when we’re home we’ll access the database of contacts and start emailing to develop the relationships started this weekend. We’ll get a few days to sleep then we start thinking about next year.

5.00pm: Brasil starts making their wonderful cocktails. They’ll strip the paint off your walls but they are delicious. Brasil also has a huge focus on musical exchanges and brilliant design for their jazz event flyers and business cards.

7.45pm: The official day draws to an end and we take advantage of the few quiet moments to reflect on what has come out of our discussions today. This conversation makes the achy feet and the fatigue all seem worth it.

– We now have a partner to work with to develop an app that shows all of the jazz gigs going on in Scotland.

– Broadcasters from Catalonia, Holland, Germany and the USA now have Scottish jazz to play on their radio shows.

– Jazz festivals and venues in Germany and Estonia approached us keen to book Scottish musicians.

– All About Jazz will take a feed from our Jazz from Scotland website’s calendar and display all of the jazz gigs in Scotland automatically on Jazz Near Me.

– We’ll be working with Sue Edwards to get Scottish jazz musicians to Made in the UK in Rochester, USA.

– We’ve signed up to be part of a conversation with jazz organisations across Europe to share information and facilitate cultural exchanges for jazz musicians.

– We’re planning a mini-festival of Scottish jazz in London.

– Both of the musicians that we brought with us have had productive meetings with agents, labels and festivals.

All of this has come out of people visiting our stand. We’ve hardly had a moment to get out and start reaching out to the other stands. Now to dinner, then to bed because tomorrow, we do it all again….

Kim Macari
Chair | Jazz from Scotland