As part of a new series, I'll post how others use Jazz Near You to get the word out about their shows and promote jazz in their region. In our first installment, I asked Southwest Florida bassist and jazz advocate, Don Mopsick to share his experiences using Jazz Near You.
We're local players. Our budgets are low. We just went through 15 months of bleakness. Now, for those of us who are vaccinated the business is showing signs of life, but it's like a deck of cards being reshuffled and re-dealt. Personally, for me live performance with other players is still where it's at. Here's why I believe in the concept of jazznearyou.com.
Local jazz players can build their brands. Musician profiles in use for each gig are linked to allaboutjazz.com, so local players for whom local live performance is their primary source of income can get some local publicity without having to hire a publicist, or rely solely on obsolete jazz-burying websites, newspapers or Facebook (although I use FB Groups to funnel eyeballs to local JNY). This is the "grass-roots" level of support of JNY which feeds all the below. You would think that musicians, young and old, would be acutely aware of the need for self-promotion in service to earning a living playing the horn, but I'm constantly surprised at how few know the basic value to them of having a performance .jpg and basic bio page ready to go, much less an entry-level website showing current appearances. JNY fills all these needs free of charge to them. Duh!
Local players for whom teaching is a big share of their income get to funnel prospective students through their musician page on AAJ, which includes robust support for finding local teachers.
The strength of JNY for players is that all of these promo materials are gathered on one site according to one locale, and if there are enough gigs and good players manning them, the impression of a "critical mass" of a viable "jazz scene" is created. I'm guessing that creating this impression is easier in a big city where the gigs are concentrated in one area, but in our region of Southwest Florida the gigs and players are spread out in six counties covering from Naples in the south to Sarasota/Tampa/St. Petersburg to the north. So we're split into three sites: Fort Myers, Sarasota, and Tampa. The fans mostly stay in their own areas, but the A-list players tend to want to drive to any of the three and across to Orlando and down to the east coast, depending on the gig and the bread. For example, I play an annual big band gig in Naples led by trumpeter Dan Miller, populated by players from Naples, Ft. Myers, Sarasota, Miami, Orlando, etc. The band kills and the hall is always sold out. The point for the players is that since they're likely to appear on more than one JNY, their personal brand can reach beyond city/county to cover the entire lower FL peninsula.
Jazz itself can build its brand locally. Jazz Near You is a "jazz-centric" site, so if admins pay attention to keeping the focus on professional-level jazz, visiting worldwide fans of the music can travel to our locale and quickly find the better players and venues without having to wade through "not-quite-jazz" listings. As we know, jazz taste is a "big tent," so it helps to indicate the style of jazz somewhere on the front page notes, whether dance-floor, straight-ahead, bop or hard bop, swing, GAS, dixieland, jam session, piano trio, rat-pack singer, etc.
Venues can elevate their brands. A music-friendly or jazz-friendly venue operator (yes, they exist) gets an audience interested in jazz music, which may be more desirable demographically/financially than fans of other forms of music in terms of spending at their bar or restaurant. Other features of JNY help venues, such as a robust map function, graphic-capable venue profile pages, etc. Operators can also get a kick from streaming live if they don't normally do that, and it's indicated on the site.
Local jazz concert presenters get a one-time targeted promotion to a local jazz clientele, often the same folks as the restaurant regulars. If the presenter is a local jazz society, they can use the JNY widget which funnels the gig data to a page on their site, such as this page on the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association. This helps the society keep their listing focus on jazz acts, raising the bar for everyone and jazz.