How Sarah’s Jazz Club Launched Using Only Social Media

Disclosure: Sarah’s Jazz Club is a creative venue launched and managed by Jazz Arts & Communications Ltd, owned by the author of this article, jazz singer and digital marketing consultant Sarah Fenwick. 

Sarah’s Jazz Club in Nicosia, Cyprus, took around three years to build. The process of building and licensing the innovative project was expensive and time consuming, but the results were groundbreaking. We felt we were making a true contribution to the arts of jazz and blues, to the audience, and to the musicians’ community. sarah's jazz club

But our resources were stretched to the limit and we knew we’d be opening the jazz club on a shoestring. To save money, we decided to launch and promote only on social media until we had the budget to go to the traditional media.

The campaigns were mainly on Facebook, where we started a Page and advertised the opening date through Boosts and Advertisements. The audience was able to book directly from Facebook through messages, and the interaction and communication was free-flowing and efficient. Facebook is ideal for music branding and interest-based marketing. The group ‘Support Jazz and Blues in Cyprus’ I started in 2012 now has close to 2000 members and was another effective tool in getting the word out.

sarah;s jazz club

My Facebook profile helped me to send personal posts about our excitement about opening and get people involved and inspired. The outpouring of support was incredibly encouraging and motivated us to keep going even when the project development was tough.

Not a penny was wasted. We tracked each campaign’s success or failing and adjusted on a daily basis. We built the audience based on constantly-changing demographics, timings and interest tactics. The results were encouraging, each night during our Summer ’17 season had solid attendance with a few exceptions. We had chosen the most difficult time of year to launch. Summer in Cyprus is for travelling and holidays, so the success we experienced was actually against the odds.

Posting on Linkedin, Instagram and Twitter was another tactic. Several of the posts took off on Linkedin because of the project’s innovative character and the good wishes of the business community. In the tough times that followed the economic recession and financial crash in 2013, new businesses are more in danger of failing than ever before, so the business community is seeking signs of life and vitality!

Press releases were shared on Social Media, giving them more exposure to the journalists and bloggers who use these channels. In recent years, Social Media has become a source for journalists and in spite of all the talk of fake news, the genuine stories still have an audience. By the way, the disinformation campaigns that run regularly on Facebook are the topic of another article!

The biggest take aways from our soft launch campaign were:

  • Communicate. Communicate the good and tough times on Social Media. You’d be surprised at the support you can receive.
  • Spend a lot of time Boosting and Advertising on Facebook.
  • Avoid guilt tripping people who appear to ignore your promotions, they are often not online or simply interested in another event. Build relationships, don’t tear them down with negative messaging.
  • Man your Facebook Page Inbox, don’t abandon it.

The message to other creative musical ventures: make Social Media your central stage and the core of your marketing mix, when done correctly, you won’t be disappointed.

Sarah Fenwick is a marketing communications consultant offering services to digital marketeers, and the author of the E-book ‘How to be a Holistic Digital Marketer’. She has 25 years in the media and the arts, and is a practicing journalist and a jazz singer.



Tips for Venues and Managers on How to Treat Jazz Musicians

Jazz musicians are an eclectic group, deeply immersed in their instruments and finding their unique sound, and intently focused on improvisation and approaching songs in a different, individual way. Many jazz musicians spend years in higher musical education, and most of them practice for at least four hours every day. Make no mistake, playing jazz well and to a high standard is not easy.

With all due respect to DJs, hiring a jazz band or singer is not like hiring a DJ who plays requests and the style of music on demand. It’s more like bringing an entirely new musical perspective and atmosphere into the venue, one that will remain in the audience’s memories for years.

Tip #1: respect

Good live music is a sensitive thing, performed by artistic human beings, not machines. A lot depends on how the venue and manager treats the jazz artists. The first word that makes the difference between a great performance and an upset band whose members feel unappreciated is…respect.

In this case, respect means understanding that jazz musicians have practiced their songs for many hours and have their own way of playing them. It means that a venue or manager cannot tell the musicians with whom they should play, and how they should play. Respect in this context means understanding that jazz is an art form and as such, needs to be accepted for what it is.

Tip #2: jazz is jazz

While it can be difficult to define in a limiting way, Jazz will never be rock music, it will never be pop music. It will never be – God forbid – techno or some other type of hectic and panic-stricken music. It is in most cases warm and relaxing music that creates a special atmosphere at events and an unforgettable one in the theatres and jazz clubs. Jazz brings people together in a natural way, it doesn’t over-excite them in unhealthy ways like techno does.

Forcing jazz musicians to play pop or rock is a mistake; they will resent it and their performance will be half-hearted at best and heavily sarcastic at worst. Let them play what they want, it will sound a lot better to everyone. It’s important that the venue understands their target market and decides on the entertainment they’d like best before hiring a jazz or any other band.

Tip #3: music creates the venue’s atmosphere

I can’t over-emphasise how incredibly important music is when it comes to creating atmosphere. It is literally the difference between a dead zone and a warm, alive and welcoming venue. A venue without music or with the wrong music is dead, and people notice this as soon as they walk in. It might be subconscious, but it will be noticed. A venue with good live jazz will be bustling, happy, warm and artistic.

Tip #4: quality, not quantity

Why have four hours of live music from tired musicians instead of two hours of high-quality music from enthusiastic, happy and energised players? Live music is just as physically draining as an entire football game played over 90 minutes. Good musicians pour their heart, soul and physical energy into their performances, which are extremely physical. The guitarist wears out his or her arm, shoulder and fingers in each performance; the singer uses his or her vocal chords, chest, arms and shoulders to produce their sound. After two hours, this effort cannot be sustained at a high level, and nor should it be. It’s simply not the same as other types of work and must be appreciated as such. Any performance that lasts over two hours must be at the player’s discretion and with their permission, not as a forced thing.

Tip #5: ask the audience to focus on the jazz

In a venue like a bar, hotel or restaurant, special efforts need to be made to ask the audience to focus on the jazz performance, otherwise the noise gets out of hand and nobody can hear themselves, leading to irritation all around. At the very least, conversations need to be kept as quiet as possible so that the music can be heard.

Tip #6: what kind of jazz?

Before hiring a band, ask what kind of jazz they play. Is it instrumental, vocal, standards, experimental, solo? Ask what they sound like, ask for a CD or a video clip to get an understanding of their style. Each type of jazz has its own merits and audience. For a successful performance that could be repeated, getting the formula right is important.

Tip #7: promote

A venue or event manager must have a promotion plan for the jazz performance and should never expect people to show up if they don’t know about it. Work with the jazz musicians, communicate with them about the promotion plan and see what they can do to support it. Advertising on social media is the minimum that a venue can do to promote their jazz events.

Tip #8: spotlight & sound

In addition to advertising the live music event, it’s important to give the band a spotlight and make sure the sound equipment and acoustics are good. A single spotlight will make the difference between a noticeable group and a band playing in the dark – which is so obviously pointless. Two or three lights and a stage is even better.

Tip #9: hospitality

Venues can treat the members of the jazz band as they would treat their guests – with warm hospitality. It will put the band in the mood to perform, and make them feel accepted and part of the venue’s team. Even if their performance is ad hoc, it’s an important part of the whole show for a jazz musician to feel accepted and welcomed.

Sarah Fenwick is jazz singer, marketing communications consultant offering services to digital marketeers, and the author of the E-book ‘How to be a Holistic Digital Marketer’. She has 25 years in the media and the arts, and is a practicing journalist for the site she co-founded in 2009