JAZZ SERVICES AT JAZZAHEAD, BREMEN, 2012
In April this year, Jazz Services’ Touring and International Manager Anne Rigg went to the annual JazzAhead! conference in Bremen, Germany. Here she reports on her experiences and offers an introduction on the conference and its value to the UK jazz scene.
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Now in its seventh year, this was the first time I attended JazzAhead! in Bremen, representing Jazz Services Ltd. My role was to run the JSL stand, for which we were fortunate enough to have received funding of £3,000 from UKTI Niche Genre Project.
The trade fair has become possibly the most important trade event in the jazz calendar anywhere in the world. It combines conference, showcase, festival and trade fair in one, and its importance is reflected in its continuous growth and the draw that it has on promoters, agents and managers from beyond Europe. Its principal objective was always to promote the excellent music that is being produced in Europe and to offer the industry a Europe-wide networking opportunity to develop business contacts in the region. In addition there are now regular participants from Asia, Canada and Turkey. 503 exhibitors from 31 nations presented themselves from Thursday through Sunday in the exhibition halls, ensuring a remarkable increase of 42 percent on last year’s event, and the number of professional participants climbed up to 2,256, an increase of 12 percent. Nearly 7,000 international visitors and professional participants from 43 countries enjoyed the concerts and show cases at JazzAhead, representing a rise of more than 22 percent compared to 2011.
As in 2011, JSL shared a British Jazz Stand with support from UKTI, The Scottish Jazz Federation and Creative Scotland and other exhibiting partners. Our stand was divided into four sections; two for contributors, the Scottish Jazz Federation, Basho Records and Just East of Jazz. One stand was a Jazz Services booth, which we used as a general catch-all for all those from the UK jazz industry who had managed to get themselves to Bremen to display their flyers CDs and business cards. The final larger space was used as a meeting area clear of literature and CDs. Here we had two round tables and six chairs for meetings, plus displays of free copies of Jazz UK and Jazzwise magazines, and this area was also used as the focal point of our whisky and wine reception - a great opportunity to break the ice. Over 30 UK jazz professionals attended the conference and the stand was buzzing with activity for the three days. There was a high degree of interest in the UK Jazz industry and many networking opportunities were made with international partners.
The highly sought-after showcases take place during the day in performance spaces around the trade fair, and in the evenings at the late night venue, the Schlachthof. This year we had a record five British bands showcasing at JazzAhead; the Kit Downes Trio, Just East and Dennis Rollins Velocity all showcased as part of the European Showcase section, while Lighthouse performed a showcase as one of only two bands specially selected by Siggi Loch, founder of ACT Records, to celebrate his receiving the Skoda Award in 2012. There was also a special vocal showcase this year which featured UK vocalist Sara Coleman. All in all, it was a fantastic recognition of British talent on a wider stage, and the reports and reviews were brilliantly enthusiastic.
In addition to this Jazzahead offers an opportunity for agents, managers, labels and other players in the industry to arrange meetings, attend seminars and promote their artists. This year’s JazzAhead offered JSL a great opportunity to sell British Jazz, as the level of showcase success reflected the benefits of our on-going support from UKTI in assisting British companies participating in this event. We were able to promote British jazz to the European market through our presence at the event and through the production of a special issue of our national magazine, JazzUK, which was dedicated to UK Jazz in Europe. It also assisted us the chance to recruit European advertisers for the magazine. Some of the potential collaborations for artists, managers and agents so far include performance opportunities in France, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Sweden, Malaysia, Australia, America, Canada, Russia, Belarus, Switzerland and South Korea – a good spread! Connections were also made between BuJazzO, a National German Youth Jazz Orchestra who wanted to participate in an exchange/tour with both NYJO and the Scottish Youth Jazz Orchestra, and between a Dutch Jazz Information and Support organisation, Buma Cutuur, similar to Jazz Services, who wanted to explore the possibilities of an exchange project between Holland and the UK.
Our presence at Jazzahead enabled JSL to offer support to the showcasing bands and their representatives, assist them promoting their showcases and in securing future shows in Europe. By running our stand we able to offer support to an increasing number of delegates attending the trade fair in the form of advice, meeting space, promotional material and introductions to European promoters, agents and labels.
Overall, the UK participants all said they felt the event was extremely well organised and certainly worth their while visiting, and the UK showcases were all well attended and received in a very positive light. Jazz Services’ presence at JazzAhead is pivotal to our increased European and International development. Each year the number of UK delegates increases and with ever more work prospects resulting from attending the Festival, this is a major example of UK companies and artists increasing their jazz related presence in Europe and further afield.
- Anne Rigg