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  • Bob Roden

How to Have Great Relationships with Your Musicians

As we’ve discussed from many angles over the course of this blog, live jazz can add a touch of sophistication to almost any event. If you’re an event planner, building and maintaining great relationships with your musicians will be key to ensuring a harmonious collaboration.

In this post, we'll explore essential tips for fostering strong connections with jazz musicians, creating memorable experiences for both clients and attendees.

1. Communication is Key:  Probably most important is to establish open and clear lines of communication from the outset. Sit down for coffee with the group’s leader if you have a chance. Clearly articulate your event’s vision, theme, and any specific requirements. Jazz musicians thrive on improvisation, let them know what you’re after and they and they can adjust their approach accordingly. Stay in touch and treat them as part of your team.

2. Collaborate on Setlist Creation:  This step is optional; experienced musicians can craft effective playlists entirely on their own if that’s your preference.  However, jazz musicians are versatile, and real professionals will be more than happy to shape their performance to support your vision and enhance the overall experience.

Discuss with them the event's atmosphere, audience demographics, and maybe suggest a particular tune or two to give the musicians a good sense of what you’re after, and then sit back and let them bring their expertise to bear. They totally share your desire to make the event a big success.

3. Understand Their Craft: If you’re not already a jazz buff, take at least a little time to understand the general world of jazz and the style of your chosen group. This will help you appreciate what they are able to contribute to your event and will foster a sense of connection that will benefit you in a million small ways.

4. Prioritize Fair Compensation: Valuing the talent of your musicians is crucial for a successful partnership. Ensure fair compensation, taking into account factors such as the number of musicians, performance duration, travel time, and any special requests. A well-compensated ensemble feels respected and is highly motivated to deliver an outstanding performance.

5. Provide a Comfortable Performance Environment: Create a comfortable and well-equipped performance environment for your musicians. Consider factors like stage or area setup, lighting, and sound equipment.  Check in with them ahead of time about how they like to set up, how much room they need, how many power outlets they need nearby, and so on. 

A musician-friendly space enhances their ability to deliver a captivating and memorable performance.  Even if the space in which they will play is limited or challenging in some way, communicating about it ahead of time will help the group plan how it will set up, what equipment it will bring, etc.

6. Establish a Backstage Area:  If space allows, offer a designated backstage area where musicians can relax and prepare before their performance. If possible, this space should include amenities such as refreshments, comfortable seating, and sufficient privacy, ensuring that the players feel valued and ready to deliver their best. 

Even if nothing else is practical, put out a bottle of water for each player before they arrive.  That small gesture will let them know you are thinking about their comfort and will make them feel welcome.

7. Show Appreciation: Express your gratitude for their contribution to your event. A simple, sincere thank-you goes a long way in building positive relationships. Consider providing feedback and testimonials, showcasing the musicians' talent and professionalism to future clients. 

If you really appreciate what a jazz group has done for you, offer to be a reference to other future clients.  Your musicians will love you for it.

Building great relationships with your live jazz combo not only helps ensure the success of your current event but also paves the way for future collaborations. By fostering open communication, understanding their craft, and creating a supportive environment, you'll not only enhance the overall experience for your clients but also contribute to the flourishing world of live jazz.

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