"A Musician Who Puts on a Gig": Local Promoter’s Multiple Roles and Hierarchies at a Small British Jazz Club
Keywords:jazz, promoter, live music
AbstractThe growing body of research on live music events and the industry around it has paid little attention to the lived experience of the local promoters, their work and the negotiations that take place within small venues. The aim of this article is to demonstrate the multiple roles and hierarchies that the local jazz club promoter deals within the organisation of events and the main “cooperative links” (Becker 2008) that the promoter works with. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the southern UK conducted mainly around London, this article illustrates how external power structures emerge within a music club, which is also the terrain where the promoter negotiates with both the venue management and with musicians. The main focus here is on the physical place that a music venue provides and cooperative links that are involved in the production of live music events, with the aim to highlight the circumstances that make a music club a unique place. The case study is based on an anonymized small English jazz venue, which provides detailed insight into the negotiations between the promoter, the manager, the audience and the musicians within Britain. Finally, I argue that existing models of live music promotion do not work for all local, small-scale promoters, due to the promoter’s multiple and, at times, incompatible roles. As a marginal music culture, the jazz world intends to evade the commercial genres; I therefore offer an alternative model that involves full interaction between a small number of parties only.
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