How To Get A Gig

We get many requests from people who want to play at our gigs so we thought it would help if we post some guidance about this.

What do we do?

Sheffield Jazz aims to bring the best of national and international jazz to the city, providing opportunities for people from all backgrounds in the Sheffield City Region and beyond, to hear and learn from some of the greatest of current artists.

On average we have brought 17-20 bands each year to the our main venue in Sheffield, which from September 2016 has been Crookes Social Club, which can seat over 200 people and has a good Yamaha SU 131 piano. We stage a further 3-4 gigs p.a. at the Crucible Studio, a 390 seat theatre-in-the-round (in collaboration with Music in the Round), and occasional gigs at Sheffield University Students Union.

Bands booked recently range from John Toussaint’s Blakey Project and other larger bands such as Chris Biscoe’s Mingus Profiles Sextet, to the Peter King Quartet, Andy Sheppard Quartet, Michael Wollny Trio, and Django Bates’ Beloved (which was broadcast by Radio 3).

We typically stage gigs on Friday nights, which is the night our audience prefers. However Sheffield Jazz is closely associated with The Lescar, a smaller venue run by one of our Committee members, which operates on Wednesday nights and we try to coordinate our bookings with The Lescar so as to ensure complementarity, with Sheffield Jazz typically booking the more established national and international names.

We are member of NorvolJazz, the Northern Voluntary Jazz Promoters Network, and of the national Jazz Promotion Network.

How do we handle our bookings?

We have two programming “seasons”- Autumn (late Sept-Dec), and Spring (Jan- late May) and we typically plan these in the preceding December-February (for the Autumn Season) and July-August (for the Spring Season).

In booking bands, the key considerations we take into account are:

  • Your music;
  • Our aim to bring the best of national and international jazz to Sheffield;
  • Whether our audience know about you, and are likely to come to your gig;
  • Whether you would help to provide a good mix of styles for our audience.

Where possible we try to collaborate with other Yorkshire/Midlands venues such as Seven Jazz (Leeds) to give bands consecutive nights of gigs.

We need to cover our direct costs for each gig from the ticket sales income for that gig. These costs average around £150 per gig to cover venue hire, piano tuning and sound engineer.  However we try to cover other overheads (marketing, audit, website maintenance etc.) from donations and any funding we can secure. Following the demise of Jazz Yorkshire we no longer receive any Arts Council funding. With the demise of the PRSF/Jazz Services Jazz Promoters Award we have also lost the invaluable funding from that source.

The fee is negotiable but normally it will be based on a guaranteed minimum fee per person (currently £190) plus an 75/25 split of additional income once our direct costs of c£150 have been covered. In addition we buy the band drinks in the interval, and we also sell the band’s CDs for nil commission.

As a rough guide our usual audience at our main venue has been between 50 and 160 (averaging around 75). Our ticket prices are currently (2017): Full £14, Concessions £11, Students with NUS card £7, 15 – 17 year olds £3, Under 15s free.

What should you do to approach us for a gig?

If you would like to be part of our programme, the best thing to do is to look at our website and see whether you appear to be on a par with the sorts of bands which we tend to book. The best times to contact us are June and November which will ensure you are considered for the subsequent Spring and Autumn seasons. Our committee determines the booking strategy and key priorities but this is informed by consultation with our Volunteers and Friends, as a basis for which we produce prior to each July and December a summary of the bands actively seeking gigs in the season in question.

Paul Thomas handles the bookings so if you want to apply, email him (cpthomas333@gmail.com) with your details, contacts and links to any music or videos that you have. He will acknowledge your approach and feed it into our booking discussions. However we get so many requests for gigs that it is not practical for him to respond individually to all applicants to let them know the final outcome; successful bands will be contacted as soon as possible after the decision has been made.

Gigs at The Lescar

Bookings for The Lescar (a smaller Sheffield venue which operates on Wednesday nights virtually throughout the year) are handled separately by Jez Matthews. If you are interested in getting a gig there, please email Jez at lescarjazz@gmail.com.