In 1998, having relocated to sourthern California, I needed new business cards. I could have replicated my old cards that had WRITER in addition to my name and contact information, but I thought it too plain. I needed something that would be descriptive, unusual, and therefore memorable. I consultated with a friend and we came up with a tag line that is still on my cards and letterhead — “Biographies and other expressions of the human condition.” I still use it, not because I think it’s done much for me, but because I don’t have anything better in mind.

Most of us creative types — writers, musicians, painters, and so forth — don’t seem to have the business gene. Oh, some of us are organized, some have learned to schmooze and sell, but real marketing know-how is something one has to study and cultivate. It is an art form all its own. And those creative types who are born with that gene, well they work on Madison Avenue and make the big bucks creating ad campaigns for Aflac, Nike, milk, and California cheese. Perhaps I’d have more business savvy had I completed that MBA degree I started when still in my 20s. But maybe it’s not too late to learn a few of the secrets.

I’ve got my eye on a most interesting happening that will be taking place from Tuesday evening (May 24th) through midday on Thursday (May 26th). A group of the jazz world’s powers-that-be (think Jazz at Lincoln Center, Blue Note Records, Concord Records, BET on Jazz, Jazz at Kennedy Center, Monterey Jazz Festival…) will be meeting together with some management and marketing gurus and a few artists to discuss “how to work together to raise market share for jazz.”

Being a jazzer myself, as well as a close friend of MCG Jazz (one of the conference organizers) I have more than a passing interest in this event. But the truth is that I will be watching closely because I hope to learn something that might be applicable to myself and to others who are close to me.

My peephole into the event is the Jazz at Wingspread blogsite , where I and others will read about the initiatives to be discussed and may post our comments and suggestions. Check it out.