Every once in a while, when standing in front of my big band, and especially after someone within the band has made some smart-alec remark, I’ll ask the audience – “Anyone want to run a big band?” It’s always in jest, of course – I have a blast working with the band’s cast of outstanding musicians, so any frustrations coming from leading a big band are far outweighed by the satisfaction I get from it. But still – there are challenging days.
And today, in jazz festival land, is feeling like one of those challenging days.
We’ve got a pretty exciting lineup coming together for this year’s festival – overall we’re in great shape. But we’ve got holes left to fill and, not for lack of trying, the right artists for those open slots have proven elusive.
The challenges are not unique to this year, and they will certainly sound familiar to anyone else with experience booking festivals. Finding the right performer is always a balancing act between artist fees and availability, venue costs and availability, ticket prices (trying to gauge what the market can bear), and the element of risk (how much is too much on any particular show). And what seemed like a good idea last week can, one week later, seem like less of a sure thing. Thus the moving target of this post’s title.
So what’s the solution? Essentially, like Reggie Watts says in this video, work harder. Dig deeper. Talk to more agents. Listen to more music (some Vulfpeck is helping to raise my spirits at the moment). And solicit feedback. Some of the best bookings at the festival each year come from your ideas. It is, after all, your festival too. Ideas are welcome. If they could just come in under $10K, reach an audience demographic of ages 23-29 and sell 700 tickets, that would great.
Okay – back to it. Where’s my magic 8 ball?
P.S. – Congratulations to Amanda Tosoff and all of the musicians on stage for her Words CD release concert last Thursday night at the Music Gallery! I had to slip out after the first half, but what I heard was excellent, and it was fantastic to see a full house.