Career Strategy with Matt Fripp, Jan 2021
At Jazz Connector on 7th January 2020, members of Ireland’s jazz and improvised music scene gathered together for a professional development session on:
Developing a Music Career Strategy for 2021 with Jazzfuel's Matt Fripp
Our Guest Speaker was musician, agent & manager Matt Fripp. After graduating with a jazz degree from the Guildhall School of Music, Matt started working as a booking agent and manager, first during 6 years at a London-based agency and then with his own company, booking more than 2,000 international gigs to date. Alongside his booking and management work, he runs the website Jazzfuel which works with musicians around the world on areas such as releasing albums, getting gigs and growing an audience. You can find out more about this work via the free articles, guides and interviews at Jazzfuel.com.
The guest speaker expressed their own personal opinions, and was not speaking on behalf of their organisations or employers.
You can watch Matt’s seminar here:
Download slides here:
Please remember to let us know HERE what times suit you best for Jazz Connector and whether there are any topics you would like covered so that we can plan for the best possible future sessions.
The seminar covered some broad areas including:
- Industry networking - how to make and maintain industry contacts.
- Audience development - knowing who your fans are, and how you can connect with them.
- Presenting your project professionally.
- Note that gradual increases can make a big difference for your next release/event. If you have 10 times the number of fans, or 10 times the number of journalists on your database, your release will go quite differently.
Aims for presenting a project
- Conveying the project as quickly as possible
- Exciting the person who is looking
- Showing the industry how they will sell it.
The importance of having good Images
- People will usually see your project before they hear it. Eye-catching photos stick in people’s memories and increase the chance they may click the next time they see it. Try and find something that stands out, i.e. NOT ‘jazz musicians standing in front of brick walls’.
- Eye-catching photos get used more in press, which can increase your reach.
- Images that emote or create a sensation are most effective.
Importance of having good video
- 60% of promoters said video content was VERY important when choosing a band.
- Sessions such as Balcony TV can be a good way to get video content even if they don’t pay particularly well.
- Negotiate with a club or festival that films acts to get the footage from your performance.
- Recent thoughtful and creative livestreams helped link creators to audiences and highlighted bands to promoters.
- Particularly important for journalists. Needs to be exciting enough for them to click the link and listen.
- Match your text. Rule of 7 - people need to hear the message 7 times before it sinks in - so check across Facebook, website bios, etc. Does it make people excited to listen to your music?
- You have complete control of your website, unlike social media, with algorithms etc.
- It should be a good hub for all of your best content and always be up-to-date
- A bad website can suggest that the project isn’t a priority or that people are not on top of things
- Effective streaming is often less about high production quality and more about intention and meaningful experiences.
- Ideally something that would stand up outside of COVID restrictions.
Developing your audience - 1000 True fans
- A concept by Kevin Kelly in Wire Magazine.
- This isn’t literal, but means that the amount of fans you need for a sustainable career are not innumerable, but should be a countable number, if they are ‘true fans’, who will buy your music, come to gigs etc.
- Your fans can be analysed in tiers -
- 1. Mailing List, people who are interested in you
- 2. Social media, People who know of you and tend to like you. Ideally, get them onto a mailing list.
- 3. Casual listeners, Spotify etc.
- Using your mailing list. Mailing lists can be up to 40 times more effective than social media in getting people to act.
- Step 1. Sign up with Mailchimp, Convertkit or another provider and create a form to collect addresses.
- Step 2. Create a dedicated landing page on your website with the sign-up form and possibly some limited extra information.
- Step 3. Get sign-ups.
- Start with family and friends
- Offer incentives, e.g. unreleased video content, unreleased music, lyric sheets, chord charts, private Facebook groups, transcriptions etc. Anything your fans would like.
- Step 4. Set up welcome emails
- Sign-ups get an initial welcome, then possibly a second email with a little story about a project, a video, etc.
- By the time they get the regular newsletter they know something about you and your project.
- Tips for effective mailing lists
- Ideally in 1st person, personalised - use the First Name function so it is addressed ‘Dear Sarah,’ rather than ‘Hi there’.
- Keep things short, concise, and focused on something interesting. Mailing Lists often seem to work best as one message - directing people to one thing to click, read, watch.
- Get into a routine of regular, interesting personal content - something about a current project, a link to a rehearsal etc. Every 3-4 weeks is a decent rule of thumb, dependent on your projects and audience.
- Mailing lists should offer value, something interesting for the reader, not always selling something.
- Segment bigger lists
- This can be geographically, so that tours aren’t advertised to those on a different content
- Or to not send selling emails to people who have already bought the album.
Tips on using Spotify
- Use your Artist for Spotify account
- This lets you customise your profile, to use a consistent image, branding, text with your social media, website etc.
- Songkick - Adding gigs to Songkick means they’ll appear on your Spotify artist profile automatically. People who follow you will be notified when you’re playing in their city.
- Connect your own playlists to your profile
- One of your complete discography
- One creative. E.g. things you’re listening to, influences, interesting music from other bands that connects to yours - can also feature some of your own tracks.
- Official Spotify playlists
- These are generated by algorithms or by Spotify staff listening to new releases
- You can submit your new release for playlisting through Artist for Spotify, at least 2 weeks in advance of its release date, ideally 2 months.
- If it’s an album you can submit one track, it’s better to submit singles in advance.
- Fan-generated playlists
- Apply or pitch to fans or companies. E.g. Improvised Music Company’s ‘This is Irish Jazz’ playlist, application HERE.
- Spotify will notice a big uptick in streams or a track being added to a lot of playlists.
- Connecting different projects on a Spotify profile
- Different versions of the same band can be on the same Spotify profile, but it’s difficult with different projects
- You can set yourself as a featured artist on all projects and they will link back to your page.
Tips on expanding your industry contacts
- Start with people you already know
- Write down everyone you know in the industry who you know enough to have had a conversation with/have their email address
- Keep in touch with people outside of release. Can you provide value to them rather than just asking for things.
Example model for releasing new music
- 1. Release singles first (Spotify can be used as above), ideally at least 2 months before. This gives you time to generate interest. Allow at least 3 weeks between singles.
- 2. Look at similar artists making similar music at a similar level or a bit ahead of you
- Make a list of the press (specific writers) who cover these bands. You can often dig for email addresses online.
- Make a list of people you think would like the record.
- Pitch with a short 2-3 sentence description of the project.
- Personalise the opening, e.g. ‘We saw you worked with this band, so you might like this.’
- 3. Timing.
- 1. Send the first email 2 months before release
- 2. Follow up to people who haven’t responded 2 weeks before.
- 3. At release date, a 3rd to people who haven’t responded, e.g. ‘We’re sure you’re busy, we won’t bother you again, but these are the reasons we thought you’d like this’.
- 4. Personalise
- Don’t mass-mail/bcc anyone who is offering you anything as valuable as a gig or a review.
- 5. Radio
- Figure out whether it’s the host or producer deciding on music to contact the correct person.
- Keep it personal, pick out tracks ‘we thought this might be interesting for you because’.
- Send download links to wavs etc. rather than streaming links.
More from Jazzfuel
Download Matt’s full slides from the talk here
Find further useful articles, interviews and more on Jazzfuel, and get free resources and tools by subscribing to their Mailing List.
The Jazzfuel Manager programme is Jazzfuel’s subscription service, open for registration until the end of January. It’s an online community of musicians and industry members with resources, lessons and feedback on career-building areas such as getting reviews, Spotify, Facebook, mailing lists and more. https://jazzfuel.com/services/jazzfuel-manager-offer/