Professional Development Sessions | Amy Pearce

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Professional Development Sessions | The truth about getting gigs with Amy Pearce

With no rehearsals, gigs or studio sessions right now, NYJO has been using the lockdown period to provide professional development opportunities for our young professionals.

For the last few months, Head of Professional Development, Roger Wilson, has introduced a range of industry experts to members of our Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Exchange. Whether it’s marketing, promotion, tax or funding, each speaker brings a unique set of insights and experiences ideally suited for contemporary musicians at the onset of their careers.

Amy Pearce is a freelance promoter, producer and strategic creative consultant, Director of Global Strategy for Edition Records and on the Board of The F-List. We (virtually) caught up with Amy Pearce for a talk on the truth about getting gigs.

Professional Development Sessions | Amy Pearce

Why is it important that musicians establish personal relationships with promoters/programmers?

Live performance will likely be one of a musician’s income streams and therefore it’s important they feel comfortable managing that part of their career and working with that part of the industry.

I don’t see personal relationships as meaning you need to be best friends. It’s about building a relationship so that when it comes to asking for a gig, there’s a context for that ask. Maybe you’ve introduced yourself a few months previously and sent them a link to your new album. Maybe you followed that up with an album review or an invite to another gig you are playing so they can see you live. Maybe by building that connection you learn more about how the business works from their point of view.

There are considerably more excellent musicians performing exciting music than there are performance opportunities. Programmers are inundated by requests, so make sure that when they get to your email they recognise and feel positively about your name and music.

What do you anticipate will be the biggest changes to the performing arts in a post-Covid world?

The reality is it’s too early to tell what the impact of Covid-19 will be. I’m also very conscious that those of us who get asked that question may not be the ones who get to influence the outcome.  I do believe there will be a shift and that this will be a cross-roads for many people – whether they are artists, organisations or audiences. 

There’s a sense that people’s values have changed – a stronger sense of family, a different work / life balance, a recognition that people are the motors of our society. Yet there are still huge imbalances in terms of individual experiences in our world and the position of the arts within our society is unclear. 

On a practical level, there are opportunities to continue to develop some of the digital innovations – both artistically and in terms of artist’s relationships with audiences – and to explore more sustainable ways of working, with a depth of community engagement that wasn’t possible with the previous one-city-a-night international touring patterns. There is also a chance to rebalance the scene and ensure that as we rebuild, a broader range of voices are heard in all roles – this is crucial. 

Professional Development Sessions | Amy Pearce
London Jazz Festival: Amy helped run the large-scale event in her previous role at Serious (Photo: Andy Newcombe)

What are the most important lessons for a young musician to learn at the start of their professional career?

Have a vision and a strategy of how to get there. 

Be authentic; be passionate; take a stand; have something to say. 

Be consistent and keep going – this isn’t going to take a month or a year this is your career. 

Timing is everything – and luck plays a part too. 

Live your life on the way up as you would wish to be treated on the way down.

Only put in writing something you would be happy reading on the front page of a tabloid newspaper. 

From your experience, how can having the right contacts impact your success?

There’s not a list of “right” people to know – the right contacts are entirely personal to your career.  It’s about what your vision is and who might be able to help you achieve it. 

Amy Pearce is a freelance promoter, producer and strategic creative consultant, Director of Global Strategy for Edition Records and on the Board of The F-List. Her invaluable knowledge of the industry and how to thrive in it made for a fantastic sessions about getting gigs and developing working relationships with promoters, programmers & venue bookers.

We’d like to thank Amy for spending the time to connect with us and hope to see her again soon!

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