Photo credit: Matt Fripp
LondonJazz News: Your main job is as an agent and manager for specific artists....
Matt Fripp: Yes that's right - almost every day I get to thinking about how the jazz musicians I work with can reach more people and build their careers.
LJN: But you also take on the bigger picture?
As an agent, you get a lot of emails from some great musicians - but there's not enough time to actually represent all of them. So the idea of starting Jazzfuel was simple - to start to share some ideas and tips from this point of view as to how DIY jazzers can get more gigs.
LJN: And how has it gone?
MF: Great - I've "met" so many musicians via email or Skype. When I hit 500 subscribers on the mailing list, I decided I’d better get some more people to share advice too! Since then, there have been a whole bunch of industry Q&A sessions including Kurt Rosenwinkel, Good Music Company (agents for Snarky Puppy), promoter Tony Dudley-Evans and more.
LJN: And are there common threads that come through in the advice?
MF: Perhaps the first one is the most obvious: that playing great music is of course the most important thing. But how you present yourself and connect with people within the industry is crucial too.
LJN: Be more specific...
MF: This "other stuff" – from how you’re emailing festivals, how you use social media, your press text, photos, videos and website – can make the difference between a gig and no gig. For every band on a festival programme, there are lots more who could have delivered an equally great gig but somehow didn’t convince the promoter quite as well.
LJN: And with that idea of assisting presentation - there is now a new service that has emerged?
MF: That's right. We are now up and running with a service which aims to provide gigging jazz musicians with low-cost but effective websites.
LJN: And you feel that is a really important thing to get right...
MF: For a musician, the website is often the first place a promoter, agent, fan will go to learn more about you. Or to see where you’re playing. Or to buy your album. It’s sort of your hub on the web, where all the important stuff is pulled together. As such, it’s so important that it’s functional, up-to-date and looking good. And, in 2017, having an effective website no longer needs to be expensive or time-consuming.
LJN: Before you go into detail on the paid-for offering, there is quite a lot of the Jazzfuel material which is free, and is - sort of - common sense?
MF: Most of the info at Jazzfuel.com – from social media to pitching to promoters - is stuff you can do yourself, for free, with just a little bit of time. From free downloads to weekly newsletters, it’s mainly putting the info out there and letting you use it how you want. For example, with your website: if you have some skills already and want to do it yourself, you can find a bunch of pointers and a checklist of "seven things to avoid on your website" which might help you do it that little bit better.
LJN: But websites are a lot more time-consuming and technical, and that is an area where your new service can make a difference... what have you put together?
MF: A few months back, I got together with a couple of brilliant web designers to build a simple but very functional demo website. The sort of site that I’d be happy to land on when an artist contacts me. Now the technical work is done, we are opening up this design as a low-cost service for gigging jazz musicians. You supply us with your best photos, videos, music and texts and we’ll build it.
And, on top of that, the monthly hosting includes unlimited updates to the content. So if you have new music, videos, releases, quotes... you can just send them over and they’ll appear on the site.
LJN: What about musicians who already have a website?
MF: Sometimes it makes more sense to start again and build a new website. But, for musicians who are already pretty happy with what they have, I'm happy to offer another point of view on how you could tweak it to be more effective. Just drop me an email matt@Jazzfuel.com - I’ve become a bit of a geek when it comes to checking out jazz musician websites!
LJN: And for a new website - what's the deal?!
MF: Anyone who gets in touch by the end of May and mentions London Jazz News gets a £50 discount on the set up cost and three months free hosting. If you want to take advantage of it:
1) Drop an email to matt@Jazzfuel.com and we'll arrange a quick chat to go through the possibilities, as well as think about your most convincing bits of content to include.
2) We’ll put all this together into a demo version of your website - for free, with no obligation to keep it. This takes around five days right now.
If you want to check out a few existing websites, including UK trumpeter Freddie Gavita and Swiss drummer Florian Arbenz, you can do so right here: https://jazzfuel.com/services/websites
And lastly, if you would just like to keep up to date with the articles and interviews from Jazzfuel, join the free mailing list at www.Jazzfuel.com