Berlin Musician Welcome Guide

First steps to Berlin Jazz Scene 

how to create new

opportunities to play/present your Jazz music?

This is an interview with Jazzy Berlin founder Avi Albers Ben Chamo for the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus/Aalborg by Yannick Ballmann

Yannick: Hello Avi, Before we start, here is a bit of context. I need to do a career plan for a class. I would like to know from you, how to create new opportunities to play/present your music. And how did Jazzy Berlin happen and how did you make it grow.

How do you go about finding new opportunities to play?
Actually 90% of the time I am spending on contacting the community, be it by talking to 
people at the jam or via the weekly mail which I've been sending in the last years. The phone call or the opportunities as you call it, came to me.

How do you approach making partnerships with new venues?
When I get a call from a venue I will meet the person and will take a look at the place, but the final take on this will be, can I build a relationship with this person. As much as the venue will look cool and sexy, which is all good, a good communication will be the thing I will be looking for.

What are, in your opinion, the keys to success for long term partnerships?
Communication, reliability. As a musicians I can be very self-centered, It's my craft I'm want to refine. But if you want to go a step further, looking at the big picture is very important. Some time a venue owner will book me year after year, only because he can trust me to be on time, to send him all the papers on time, to be nice and respectful to the staff. All this has nothing to do with music but being more social and to understand the other person's side and difficulties too.   

Why did you come up with Jazzy Berlin?
I was fired as a waiter and didn't have a job.

What was the vision behind the idea back when you started?
Back then there was no vision. I love Jazz, so I opened a facebook page and shared jazz concerts of musicians I liked.

What does the vision look like today?
To keep the community evolving and to be happy with what I do.

How did the planning phase look like when you started? 
I would say it was a facebook page and some passion.

What were the difficulties? How did you solve them?
When I got my first call it was from a techno club. I didn't know anything about running a jam or dealing with musicians. As much as I'm myself a musician, I've always loved to organize but this was a wake-up call and a long learning process. Not just dealing with booking musicians, playing, but dealing with a big venue. I had a lot of stress because I wanted the perfect night, but I needed to gain experience, to relax, to plan more ahead and to except problems on the way, when they come, with a smile.

What resources helped you in the beginning?

What resources do you use today to keep it going?
Some facebook but mainly meeting people and personal emails. Just to point out, Jazzy mails are merely 10% about Jazzy, and 90% about Jazz events for the weekend. Same as what I did when I started. 

Yannick Ballmann is an active drummer in Berlin scene currently located at Aarhus/Aalborg
Avi Albers Ben Chamo is a musician and a painter based in Berlin
Avi's Instagram - here


Berlin Musicians welcome Guide 

Words, words, words,
I need a place to stay! 

photo: Yannick and Avi jamming at Jazzy Berlin jam session 

at Butcher Berlin

Nela Riessova and Avi Albers Ben Chamo

By this time it might be a cliché to quote Klaus Wowereit, the governing city mayor, who described Berlin as “poor but sexy”.  Since 2004, when this quote was spread out all over the place things have changed somehow, Berlin is no longer quite as poor, it became more expensive and also more attractive. From the grey and regime censured city to the creative and open-minded mecca for artists, musicians, bohemians and dreamers, Berlin still remains sexy.

Since the Wall came down the art and culture scene have exploded in Berlin. Many abandoned buildings, huge spaces and cheap rent created the right conditions for artists to live cheaply and pursue their work.  Musicians, artists and writers moved to neighbourhoods of Soviet era buildings, blogs and studios in East Berlin where they started their hedonistic lifestyle.   

No wonder the music industry is the main driver of the Berlin’s economy. Around 2100 music industry companies are based in Berlin and more than 16 000 Berliners are working in the music industry which generated sales of more than 700 million Euros. If you happen to be another Jazz musician coming to the town, you better check this guide out which will provide you with detailed information about how to settle down, explore the microcosmos of creativity and how to expand your talent in Berlin.

Find a Wohnung (a place to stay)

First of all you need a place to live. You have got two options, you can rent out your own place or you can live in WG (Wohngemeinschaften, in English flat share). 

Finding the perfect flat in Berlin has become increasingly difficult over the past years due to the general gentrification of many parts of the city, however it is easier than in other cities as Stockholm, Paris or London. If you want to rent your own place it is probably going to be unfurnished, sometimes even without the kitchen, just the sink. Most rentals involve an application to a Property Management group (Hausverwaltung) which takes care of the building for the landlord.  You will have to provide evidence of financial stability, steady pay checks, six months of earnings in Germany or at least you will need a contract of employment.

The other, easier option of living is WG. In other European cities flat share might be considered as a sign of poverty but in Germany they are extremely popular among students and young professional. It is excellent way of saving money and it’s suitable for people who enjoy company. The best place to start is where you can find nice room for relatively cheap. Some people say that there is no point of searching before you actually get here but many people are willing to do skype interview.

Find a job

As at every beginning you will need enough cash flow to support your music career. Even if some music company or people are paying for your record, recording, support etc. you will still need to have the freedom to pursue opportunities as they come. The fact is that it is not that difficult to find a job here, but what’s much harder, is to find a stable job which is related to your field of study. If you are thinking of Berlin as a long-run place to be than there is one thing you should know: You won’t progress far without speaking German! You will have to master German if you want to get a proper job. 

I am sure there are people not having any knowledge of German living in Berlin but if you really want to get deep you will need to learn the locals language . There are also many people coming to Berlin to enjoy and experience the “sweet life”, stay for a year and afterwards they leave because they don’t have enough financial resources to support themselves anymore. However, Berlin has a vivid start-up scene where you can find many employment opportunities to support yourself while building up your jazz career.

Next task: Deutsch lernen



berlin musician welcome guide