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Artistic direction – from the bar to the concert hall

Do you want to play in big concert halls and festivals or a small bar? What would you choose?

These are very different scenarios.

What makes specific musicians perform in one or another space?

Do different contexts require different musical and artistic direction approaches?

The answer is YES! The musicians' profiles and artistic visions differ in these two scenarios.

In typical bars or nightclubs, musicians usually choose their repertoire accommodating to the style of the venue audience or what is mainstream and trendy at the time. Many things happen simultaneously in this scenario: a good conversation between friends, food, drinks, or even flirting. The music ends up being the background for the different interactions between people.

In opposition, music is the big star at festivals, concert halls, or even jazz clubs. In this scenario, the audience comes for the music, be it a new and original repertoire or the classics "straight from the source," often paying high sums for the ticket. Understanding this dynamic can be an excellent stimulus for music creators to develop projects with unique personalities and more significant artistic direction.

Hence the importance of investing in personal projects and creating unique productions. It's important to exercise our creative ability, come up with original work and have a clear artistic vision. Even if you're not a composer or arranger yourself, it's essential to be strategic about it, collaborate with creative artists, and be unique. The artistic direction is one of the main factors differentiating great professionals from those who are stagnant, only replicating standard/mainstream repertoire.

Romero Lubambo e Rafael Piccolotto Chamber Orchestra - Jazz at Lincoln Center (NYC)

You need to be good at what you do, play well, and develop your stage presence and charisma, but beyond that, you need to take advantage of the characteristics that make you unique. Your unique artistic vision will take you to another level!

Therefore, do not limit yourself! Compose, write arrangements, dedicate yourself to constant improvement, and be a better musical creator daily. And even if you are not a composer or arranger yourself, invest in partnerships with other artists who are. Commissioning compositions or arrangements is also a great option.

And now you know: these are some of the main steps that can take you to the big stages at festivals or concert halls!

Invest in YOUR music, in what makes your heart beat stronger!

It's not an easy road, but it's the most likely way to make your musical dreams come true!


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Ask me questions and post suggestions for future blogs in the comment section below!

Be sure to visit my Instagram, Facebook and YouTube channel for full videos!

Also, check out my online courses: “Creative Processes” and “Fundamentals of Audio and Video Production for Musicians”.


Rafael Piccolotto de Lima - Compositor, arranjador, diretor musical, produtor musical e educador
About the author

Rafael Piccolotto de Lima has been nominated for a Latin Grammy as the best classical composer. He holds a doctorate in jazz composition from the University of Miami and has multiple awards as an arranger, musical director, producer, and educator.

His works have been premiered and/or recorded by jazz legends such as Terence Blanchard, Chick Corea, and Brad Mehldau, renowned Brazilian artists such as Ivan Lins, Romero Lubambo, and Proveta, and orchestras such as the Brazilian Jazz Symphony, the Americas Symphony Orchestra, and the Metropole Orkest (Netherlands).

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