is the name of the company my wife and myself founded in 2010, after my contract as an employee of Universal Music Group International was not renewed. Universal then offered to become our first client and we made an agreement to work for them as jazz consultants – basically continuing to work with the artists I had signed to them in the previous years, plus bring some new acts or other established ones, if they were available. As the deal was initially for 2 years, I thought about what else I could possibly do with the company – and the role as mediator between artists and labels, agents and managers, agents and festivals etc.. did make sense to me, as I have very good connections in all aspects of the jazz music business. Now, after almost two years and looking back, it seems that the idea wasn’t that great after all – I have been approached by many artists, established and new and have tried to find the right label for them,sending music to labels which in terms of music or philosophy I thought might fit. Let’s say I did send out an album to 10 labels all over Europe and as I can see via the internet whether the music box had been opened or not, I checked regularly. On average, out of 10 labels approached, 2 opened the box and listened to the music, the other 8 didn’t even bother to do that. Out of the 2, one would reply. Such is the state of the business – labels don’t even listen to music they get send, don’t bother to answer or built relations and just try to survive and make the records they want to do. Nothing wrong with the last part – at least then send a mail and say that you don’t want to have music send to you! Not that agents are better – same story, in most cases I didn’t even get an answer. It’s tough out there, but especially because of that the jazz community should stick together – it is difficult to break new acts, more so than ever. It is difficult to sell records, as there is no shelf space for one of the few genres whose audience actually wants to buy CD’s! I am glad I could make a few deals, but as a business model it doesn’t work.
I am thankful that Branford Marsalis’ manager asked me if I was interested in coordinating his European jazz touring – as I love Branford as a person and as a musician, the decision was easy – and I had the contacts to fast create a network of agents around Europe to make it happen .. and it works. Now we are as well booking James Carter and will book Jane Monheit, once we have the next album done.
With Universal we still did release a bunch of great records, including Sonny Rollins, Road Shows, Vol. 2, John Scofield’s ballad album A Moments’ Peace etc. and are preparing a few new ones for later this year and early 2013. The A&R part has always been my favourite part of the work there and being able to focus on it, has been good. As well as working from home, together with my wife Yolanda, who makes sure that the finances and all administrative stuff is dealt with efficiently.
Soon the two years of the consultancy will be over, but Universal has already signalled that they want to continue, even so in a different form. We’ll meet and talk and we will have to see if the proposal makes sense to our company, as we need a certain income to keep going, which at the moment the touring alone wouldn’t be able to bring in. These are interesting and challenging times for everyone who is in the music business and especially for the small independents, whether they are labels, pr companies, A&R driven or touring agents, but I am confident that we’ll find a way to continue what we love most – working with creative musicians.
I’ll keep you posted. Keep swingin’.