If you’re looking for music industry boss-lady inspiration, look no further than Alexie Jell. As an Executive Artist Manager, she managers all things from A-Z, great and small in the life of a performing musician (specifically, jazz master James Morrison, are you as impressed as we are?). But she’s also taking some time to share her wisdom with those in the industry, by participating in the upcoming Jazz Industry Summit (included as part of the Stonington Jazz Festival, running from 10-20 May).
Amongst all the great live shows, performances, visual artists and dance collaborations of the festival, the industry summit (12 May) will be offering musicians the opportunity to hear from industry professionals, attend key note speeches, and workshops to learn about accounts, grants and funding, export opportunity and touring.
You can learn more about the festival and industry summit by visiting their website, but for now settle in for some serious industry wisdom from our latest Week in the Life Of…
A job description in your own words
I’m international jazz star James Morrison’s manager. This means I represent him in all his creative and business interests from booking his performances and negotiating his contracts to long term career strategy and planning. It’s a hugely varied role working with hundreds of different people each year but at its core, it’s just me, my laptop and my phone.
Challenges and accomplishments in your week
The biggest challenge? Time. There is genuinely never enough. The biggest accomplishment of my week is when I see a great artistic project come together that started from nothing.
Highlights of the job
Meeting great people and serving truly great artists.
Lowlights of the job
Very occasionally, you have to be the bad guy. Sometimes your artist is just not available to play in Vienna because he’s already booked in Bendigo. Saying no with empathy is a skill well learned.
Words of wisdom for people considering a job in your field
Go out and meet as many people from the industry as you can. One day, you’ll walk into a room and know nobody. But keep going and soon you’ll walk into the same room and know everyone. You never know where the next opportunity is coming from.
A brief weekly journal
International Jazz Day in St Petersburg, Russia. With the Global All Star Concert at the Mariinsky Theatre expected to be viewed by over one billion people, rehearsals with James and Herbie Hancock for their number together are underway early. Then it’s onto a packed hall for James to give a workshop to hundreds of his fans. I tend to use these times to catch up on work. In a job with such an international element, the email never stops. Pretty soon it’s show time. The performances are inspiring and the concert and broadcast go off without a hitch. Then it’s on to the post show function for my favourite part of my job – the networking. If you don’t love meeting people and making things happen, this isn’t the role for you.
Fly home to Australia with James. It’s not unusual for an artist and their manager to live in different cities like we do so these uninterrupted hours together in airport lounges are precious. We can plan future projects, strategize upcoming recording releases and tours and really take the time to think and talk creatively about what James might like to accomplish artistically in the months and years to come.
Hop in James’s plane – yes, he’s an airline pilot as well as a superstar musician – and pop across to Mount Gambier for the Generations in Jazz Festival. The largest youth jazz festival in the southern hemisphere, James has been an integral part of it for 30 years. It’s a great opportunity for me to connect with the Australian jazz community who all make a point of supporting the festival. It will also be a key site for International Jazz Day Australia 2019, for which I’m a Director.
Take meetings with the CEOs of major potential corporate sponsors for International Jazz Day Australia 2019. A lot of my job is connecting with people to make things happen for James and his projects and these are some serious people. You’d better have your facts at your fingertips and enjoy navigating the big end of town.
Office day booking dates, negotiating contracts, planning tours, checking in with presenters and generally executing all the logistics that come from managing a truly great and in-demand artist. I often say James is the busiest man in show business and I have the filing system to prove it. Then it’s time to go to James’s next gig. I always prefer to watch performances back stage – whether it’s at the Opera House or at a small jazz club. I enjoy being around artists and the atmosphere they create. Seeing a wonderful performance and knowing you had a small part to play in making it happen means I have the best job in the world.