Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The promoter as cultural conduit: between jazz and a hard place.

Medb�e, Haftor



This paper examines the interdependencies and frictions between the creators and the promoters of jazz in the city of Edinburgh, UK.
In providing a platform for the delivery of the cultural message of jazz (in all its many guises), the promoter walks the tightrope between commerce and art, whilst exercising considerable power in deciding which music/musician is presented to the public (and, therefore, which music/musician is not). In balancing many a jazz festival’s accounts, populist (often non-jazz or ‘jazz-lite’) choices are billed to offset smaller audiences for music of a more creative and/or niche focus. The promoter thereby also wields influence over the aesthetic value chains of jazz music, from the nature of music played to its ‘window-dressing’ through promotional design.
Notions of value and status are present throughout the manifestations of the jazz musician’s musical identity, whether in the role of entertainer, craftsman or artist. Jazz promoters similarly operate within a perceived hierarchy, from the professional concert/festival arranger to the amateur enthusiast or restaurant owner. Furthermore, the platforms on which the music is presented are ascribed status, from the rarified splendour of the concert hall down to the mundanity of the lowly wedding-gig.
The jazz musician’s professional progression is traditionally non-linear. S/he may be heard in concert-hall, restaurant, bar or function-room – possibly all in the course of a single day. The multi-platform and multi-function nature of the musician’s trade presents a problem for the promoter. How is the concert-hall audience convinced into pay for tickets to hear an artist that on-or-around the same date plays for gratis admission in a nearby pub or restaurant?
From the artist’s perspective there are, of course, equally significant flaws in the ‘laws’ of the performance hierarchy: a wedding gig is often more handsomely remunerated than a concert hall or festival recital.


Medbøe, H. (2013, November). The promoter as cultural conduit: between jazz and a hard place. Paper presented at Jazz Talks: 1st university of Aveiro jazz conference

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Jazz Talks: 1st university of Aveiro jazz conference
Start Date Nov 8, 2013
End Date Nov 9, 2013
Publication Date 2013-10
Deposit Date Aug 3, 2014
Publicly Available Date Aug 3, 2014
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-10
Keywords Jazz; music promotion; jazz festival; musical identity;
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations