Pia Raitala is a CEO of her management and booking agency Raitala Music, that represents some of the top musicians of Finnish jazz, such as Jukka Perko, Felix Zenger, Aki Rissanen and Ricky-Tick Big Band. Raitala is a hardline professional in artist management and has a vast experience in Jazzahead. She definitely has useful advice to give for artists and companies planning on heading abroad.
In its best, Jazzahead! is a fruitful forum for networking with jazz professionals and crafting new co-working possibilities. From Raitala´s viewpoint, maintaining networks and finding new contacts is a key to successful career in Finland as well as internationally. Nevertheless, Finnish people don´t always feel so comfortable with networking. What would be a good way to start building networks in Jazzahead? Raitala recommends starting with already familiar contacts. “Reading through the attendee list of Jazzahead and picking up all the names you have met before in one situation or another is a good start. Discuss with them e.g. festivals, clubs and agencies in their country to find out your career possibilities in the country”, Raitala instructs. It is also a good idea to learn from experiences of the other Finns and contact the places where Finnish musicians have performed before.
Even though the main emphasis should be on foreign contacts, Finnish delegates shouldn’t be dismissed either. “There are lots of Finnish people in the trade fair and it´s useful to take time to discuss with them as well. You can also ask someone you already know to introduce you to someone interesting.” To create new contacts, it´s important to be active and bravely approach strangers. “Wander through the trade fair stands, participate networking events and start chatting with people you don´t know”, Raitala concretizes.
Besides skillful networking, to succeed in the international market artists need to stand out. That´s why Raitala emphasizes the importance of thoroughly prepared promotional materials. “Even if the artist is the number one star in their own country, they might fall into the category of unknown musicians abroad, regardless of the length of their career or accomplishments”, Raitala explains. “I consider a good promo kit an essentiality when starting a career abroad or even in homeland.”
Most artists stand out with well-written bio and high-quality videos. Good bio summarizes the main highlights of the artist´s career in an easily read form and high-quality videos give a quick overview of the music. “From my point of view, an ideal promo kit consists of several videos shooted in different locations, interesting and updated bio, relevant gig listing for the occasion in question, the main selling points explaining why this artist is different and interesting, and also coloured promotional photos where face is clearly visible, shooted both vertically and horizontally”, Raitala enlists.
Raitala underlines that preparation for the Bremen should be started early beforehand. Her advice for the next year in Jazzahead and tips for last minute can be summarized in three important words: attitude, preparation and timing.
Tips for first-timers in Jazzahead by Pia Raitala:
When going to Jazzahead for the first time, you should take it easy and just explore the atmosphere and possibilities. Scale your expectations about possible outcomes realistically so that the event doesn´t feel too confusing and pressure won´t rise so high.
Don´t go unprepared. There will be over two thousand new people around the world at the venue and it might feel hopeless to catch up with everybody. Contacting all of them is impossible and also unnecessary. At first you can prepare by deciding a few target countries and groups who to introduce yourself to and who to contact. Write a clear and strong pitch and memorize it.
It´s recommended to familiarize yourself with the list of attendees already in the beginning of March. You might need to use a few entire days to research your chosen target countries and groups and mail the possible contacts. Because the most popular people have calendars fully booked several weeks before the event, it might be impossible to talk to them spontaneously. Research interesting people beforehand, especially those who you arrange a meeting with: what is it precisely that they do and what they look like?
For those attending Jazzahead!, more advice on promotional material is shared in ”A Wealth Of Music Content, But What's It Worth?” panel discussion on Friday 26.4.
Jazzahead! is held 25.-28.4.2019 in Bremen, Germany. Jazzahead! consists music trade fair and high-quality showcase programme. This year Jazzahead! is attended by about 30 delegates from Finland, such as jazz artists and representatives of record labels and agencies. Finnish talent is heard in the official showcase programme: Verneri Pohjola performs both in Sunna Gunlaugs´ and Janning Truman 6 ensembles. In addition to that, Verneri Pohjola, Katu Kaiku and OK:KO perform in the Finnish night of Karton Club on Saturday. Also Aki Rissanen Trio will perform in KITO Club the same night.
Written by Jenni Köykkä
Photo by Teemu Mattsson