INTERVIEW: Raestar Jazz Promotions and The New Website

Danielle White
Photo Credit: Muddy Field

Danielle White, of Raestar Jazz Promotions, talks to Sebastian Scotney about The New www.daniraestar.com website and what it offers artists.

LondonJazz News: Why did you choose the name?

Danielle White: The late jazz journalist and guitarist Jack Massarik playfully dubbed me 'Daniraestar' obviously combining my nick name 'Dani' with my company name 'Raestar' which derives from my late daughter Vanessa's middle name 'Rae' and the word 'star' which conjures an illusion (some might say 'delusion') of grandeur and the pinnacle of success in whichever form one might aspire to. I've never really put too much thought into the why as this whole process has always been an organic one.

LJN: You have managed artists but you are now using that expertise - essentially your goal is to assist artists? To do what in broad terms?

DW: Basically I learned how to manage artists - mostly family members - on the job and was successful because I utilised skills learned in my various sales and marketing positions. Everyone knows that being successful in this and any business requires courage, organisation, a measure of chutzpah, madness and persistence. As many know I've been instrumental in the success of several high profile jazz musicians (it's all detailed on the website) and naturally also worked with my son the trumpeter Jay Phelps (formerly with Empirical who I also managed) off and on throughout the years. So when the management side of my business ended I was lucky to have the knowledge and contacts gleaned over more than a dozen years in the UK jazz industry and was able to rebrand myself. As a consultant I've been able to offer a cost-effective solution to musicians not fortunate to have managers but requiring guidance, marketing and promotional assistance. Raestar Promotions offers a sort of hybrid service combining a non-exclusive agency and of course the e-blast which markets the artist directly to decision-making promoters of venues, festivals, clubs, etc.

LJN: And you have also worked in advertising and publishing?

DW: As I mentioned earlier the e-blast is the culmination of skills I acquired during my long career which began after university selling products to industry, selling fax machines, intercom systems, print advertising and, finally, in a departure learning the rudiments of desktop publishing (now known as 'graphic design'). Back in Vancouver about five years before emigrating to the UK I combined my skills to found two magazines. As a publisher I handled all facets of the production for advertising sales, design and writing articles. I must've been mad! But the sale of one of the publications provided the seed money to relocate me and my Jay to the UK, so pulling those all-nighters to meet publishing deadlines paid off in the end.

LJN: And the first product you developed was the e-blast - how does that work?

DW: The e-blast is simply an e-flyer designed and produced with an auto-responder programme which tracks the responsiveness of the contacts, ie who clicks to read it and then who goes onto reviewing the links etc. I use Mad Mimi but of course there are many similar programmes in the marketplace, like Mail Chimp, Get Response, AWeber and Constant Contact.

Ostensibly a profile-raising product, the value is in the quantity and quality of the contacts list which is crucial to the efficacy of the e-blast. My list has taken over 18 years to compile and is a work in progress. I also have good working relationships with a large chunk of my contacts with whom I often work intuitively. The other day whilst in discussion with this year's 'best venue' Parliamentary award-winner Mike Gordon I recalled his street name when confirming his postal address - how desperate is that?

The musician sends me details of the project they're promoting - usually a new album - I put it together and 'blast' it out to my 2,400 + list of contact which comprise mostly UK promoters but also jazz press and selected musicians. To a lesser extent the e-blasts go out to Europe, the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, etc. So the coverage is pretty extensive but of course most important is the UK market and I've produced e-blasts for a number of American artists keen to raise their profiles in a market so much easier to tour geographically-speaking than the yawning vastness of America.

LJN: Who was your first customer for the e-blast?

DW: It's hard to believe that five years ago I sent out the first promotion on behalf of former 'J-Life' singer Julie Dexter who relocated to Atlanta over a dozen years ago and wanted to promote some UK gigs during a visit home to the UK. Since that first e-blast the business has grown extremely slowly but steadily which is unsurprising considering my clients aren't exactly performing in the most lucrative of musical genres. But I've witnessed a lot of progression by dozens of artists as have other artists who have naturally and intelligently jumped on the bandwagon (pun intented) in the hopes of replicating the success of their friends and colleagues.

LJN: And now the e-blasts are collected so there is a resource - where do people find that?

DW: I've had my website upgraded and redesigned to include all past e-blasts and highlight new ones. The website also features videos, venue profiles as well as incorporates some of the blog material featured in the old site including tips for musicians about how to promote their music employing a strategy and not just a 'hope for the best' shotgun approach. With technology at everyone's finger tips every artist can employ the same tools as labels and can organise a decent album release in a professional manner. So the new website is a guarantee to artists that their e-blast doesn't disappear into the ether and actually 'lives to fight another day' so to speak by being embedded on the site forever. It's also a resource for promoters where they can research artists' EPKs, discover fresh talent and familiarise themselves with new projects from more established artists. Promoters can even promote the brilliance of their own programming (and possibly end up with a gong like Mike Gordon of Scarborough Jazz) by advertising on the e-blast.

LJN: What other services are you developing?

DW: Early this year I developed the 'Showcase e-blast' which is essentially a monthy e-flyer featuring several artists and other industry businesses on one page, each linked to either a current e-blast or their website or the website of a venue where they're performing. The Showcase e-blast has proven very popular by musicians because of the modest price point - a fraction of the cost of the regular e-blast. Additionally promoters seem to enjoy the convenience of receiving detailed info on so many artists in one e-flyer. So far, with keeping the new website current, procuring new e-blast business, this new Showcase 'mini blast' and my small agency roster I've got my hands more than full and don't envision developing anything new in the foreseeable future - though I never say never. I can say that I put my money where my mouth is and have started advertising daniraestar.com on jazz websites like your excellent London Jazz resource which will naturally benefit my advertisers.

LJN: Are you confined to the UK?

DW: As mentioned earlier I have produced e-blasts for a few Americans and one Dutch band named Tristan. The global nature of the internet means that information can't be restricted to one country and I welcome enquiries from international artists who are keen to raise their profile outside of their own country and potentially procure work or at least sell their music to other markets. (pp)

Raestar Jazz Promotions

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