We spoke to Agustín Borlán from TheProject, the company organising the Voll-Damm Barcelona Jazz Festival. Borlán is in charge of communications for Amics del Jazz, the festival’s loyalty collective, and is also part of the communications team.
Tell us a bit about the history of the Barcelona Jazz Festival
Crumbs! That’s not easy considering we’re into the 53rd edition. The festival started on 3 November 1966, with a concert by The Dave Brubeck Quartet at the Palau de la Música Catalana, and since then it’s only failed to be held in Barcelona on two occasions. The main universal jazz figures have taken part, from Duke Ellington to Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Nina Simone, Jimmy Smith, Ornette Coleman and many more. The local scene has always featured heavily in the programme, which has witnessed the rise of greats such as Andrea Motis and the Sant Andreu Jazz Band. It includes a globally unique cycle of masterclasses from the participating artists themselves, and in 2008 a book was published with the history of the festival, marking its first forty editions.
How important is digitalisation in your business? What channels do you use to communicate with clients?
A sector like ours needs strong connections with the digital framework, as this is basically where ticket sales happen. Traditional channels have less and less impact on the public, hence the shift towards digital publicity. Besides our website and mailshots, which would be the first line of contact, the festival’s social media offer an excellent means of reaching our target audience and also allow for paid advertising campaigns to broaden our follower base and sales. In this respect, investments through Google in both research and display become important tools for promotion and marketing.
What is the bond between the Jazz Festival and Barcelona?
The festival collaborates with institutions here such as the Conservatori del Liceu and the Palau Robert, which is hosting the second edition of the DO Jazz Cat cycle this year and features emerging talent. The concerts are not just held in one place. They take place at big venues such as L’Auditori and the Palau de la Música Catalana, as well as small-format places such as the Harlem Jazz Club and the Milano Jazz Club. The Jazz & Food event, which was a big hit before the pandemic, offered people a free-access family event full of swing and gastronomy. The festival has also offered activities around the library network, at the Filmoteca de Catalunya and other public spaces, taking the big jazz festival out into different corners of the city.
The domain chosen is .barcelona. Why did you opt for .barcelona, what advantages does it give you?
Obviously, that domain didn’t exist in 1966 and neither did any others. For a long time we had more of an ‘international’ domain, but we didn’t hold back when .barcelona came along as the brand was much clearer and geolocated. At the beginning it was a risky move, as changing after so many years prompted certain confusion because of its simplicity, but now everybody agrees it was a good choice. The advantages are obvious, from the direct link between the festival and the city to a more compact, direct and simple brand in the realm of publicity. Barcelona is jazz during the festival, so there’s nothing better than jazz.barcelona to get that across.