29 Jun Get Booked at AJMF
As the Executive Director of the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival (AJMF), I get pitched a lot by Jewish musicians and their advocates. The frequency of these requests increases during the summer as we do the majority of our Spring Festival (March 8-25 in 2018) planning 6-9 months out. Timing is important and you want to be top of mind when decisions are made. So if you’re a Jewish artist that wants to play our 2018 Spring Festival, now is the right time to connect!
Don’t just write an e-mail or Facebook message. Be strategic! Here’s what I mean:
The most common outreach I receive are the bottom, “bass” level, unsolicited messages from artists I do not know or representatives I have never met. Sometimes these notes are too verbose to be helpful and others that I read are too unfamiliar to judge the potential for AJMF and our community. It is rare that I respond to these messages or explore them further.
It’s better to try and connect to me or the AJMF family through a member of our community! This creates a personal connection between us. You are no longer an unknown entity if there is someone(s) tying us together. But this is not always entirely effective as sometimes your advocate has questionable motives. I have been solicited by artists’ parents, friends and any other sort of connection you can imagine. Yes, I’m sure your personal connection is strong but I’m not sure your rose tinted glasses will be in enough supply for our fanbase.
The “alto” level is where we move above what I consider high risk opportunities. I’m not saying the bottom layers never create successful engagements. However, when we receive an artist request from a community member or an AJMF staff/volunteer, we know there is more than one person behind it. When working with Jewish day schools for instance, we can be confident of an audience and base of support. When a programming committee member or board member advocates for a particular artist, the committee and/or board will support the team.
The “soprano” level has a similar sway on programming decisions as the middle level. It is placed higher because we trust the curatorial guidance of previous AJMF artists and their agents slightly more than some of our community partners/staff/volunteers (who shall remain nameless). Both the “alto” and “soprano” levels are fantastic ways to get on our radar and on our stage(s). However the recommendation from an artist or agent comes from a position of more live music experience and expertise. This depth can be quite helpful.
Lastly, the best way to get to AJMF is through the “soloist” level: a referral by one of my colleagues at the New Jewish Culture Network (NJCN). Throughout the season, I communicate with other Jewish music presenters to discuss interesting artists and opportunities for multiple presenters to collaborate with a block booking. Sometimes, we’ll follow the lead of a peer and jump on a tour that we haven’t developed ourselves. In this way, an artist or band can perform at AJMF without even soliciting us! We’ll come to you.
I wrote this blog to be helpful and supportive of the Jewish musician community. I also selfishly hope to receive fewer blind communications that lack context. Are you writing me and/or other presenters unsolicited, verbose e-mails? Please reconsider and instead ask yourself, “how can I move up the layers of the pyramid? Do I know someone in the AJMF family?” You can find an extensive list of team members here.
You can also find our donor/sponsor list online here. Supporters of our non-profit are some of the most important members of our community. And you can see some of our previous featured artists on that page too.
Our Jewish musician community is small but it is vibrant and expanding. I thank all of the Jewish musicians that are reaching out to perform at AJMF and I hope this blog is helpful!
– Russell Gottschalk, russell (at) atlantajmf (dot) org
p.s. Want to add to the conversation? Comment on the Facebook post about this blog here.