Toni Jannotta – IndieView #4

In this fourth episode of the IndieViews we are going to chat with a great Jazz Singer Songwriter and composer from Ventura, California. A complete Artist, she start dancing at 4, at 9 discover the Violin and at 14 start acting. She start singing  in college a 15 years old and never stops.
During his carreer has been awarded with international prizes, a Global Music awards, Clouzine International Music Awards and more.

Ladies and Gentlemen:


Toni Jannotta

Toni Jannotta Live


  1. Just Jazz – 1996

  2. Jazz at the Ranch – 2001

  3. Is It Magic? – 2008
  4.  Voices of the Homeless (a music documentary) – 2012
  5. My Little Heart, Ruthie – 2017


If we cast your mind back to when you were a kid and a teenager: what are your earliest musical memories?
I started playing violin at the age of 9, but my dad played Jazz in the house all the time. He liked big band jazz and my mother gave me Peter & the Wolf as my first record. That was classical with storytelling.
Which was the first album you ever bought?

I don’t remember! Haha

Which musicians do you particularly admire and which one do you think influenced your music?
Chick Corea and Dave Grusin were great influences on compositions and harmonies. Al Jarreau and Bobby McFerrin were great influences on vocals.
Which is the best concert that you have been to?

Bobby McFerrin conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. For the last piece, he had the entire orchestra take off their shoes and sing their parts to the William Tell Overture.

What does music mean to you?

Are you still in love with your profession as musician? How do you keep your enthusiasm always live?
I am still in love with the music. The profession part is much harder. But you must do the profession in order to have the music in your life, so I just accept it.
When did you decide to be a full time musician?
I am a full time musician but I also keep a day job. This means one job ends at 5 p.m. and the other one starts at 5 p.m. Whether I am singing in clubs, or recording, or promoting my music, I am always working on it. So I have one profession during the day and another profession at night.
How do you manage your music life with your “common” life? What is your typical day like?
Finding balance in my life is extremely difficult but I try very hard to spend quality time with friends, and always have a nice bottle of wine ready on hand.
Tell us more about your latest works (album, live tour, new projects).

My latest work is a combination children’s book and CD. The music I wrote is a composition in 11 movements featuring harp and trumpet with a jazz rhythm section. The album is narrated so you can listen to it while you read the book and look at the illustrations. It is a little healing story about an isolated heart that must learn to find freedom. I have been presenting it to schools and in live performances. I am also submitting it for Grammy consideration this year.

I know you are really into the healing qualities of the music, do you like to say something about?

I believe that music has an enormous power to heal. This is very clear to me now. It touches us on very deep levels that we aren’t even aware of sometimes. To be given the gift of making music becomes a responibility, I think, to try and make the world a better place.


 “Jannotta has masterfully composed a musical suite . . . What a glimmering gift for your child to experience, and one I am certain will touch the sentiment in you at the same time.” Jeff BeckerJazz Sensibilities


Are you self-taught or have you studied music? You think is important studying music to be a Pro?
I studied music in school from elementary school through a couple years of college. I studied music theory and musicianship. I think you can be a great musician even if you don’t read a note. But I wanted to study music.
Did you keep on studying?
Yes, I do keep studying. I think this will be a part of my life for the rest of my life. Writing and performing and also studying more.
Speaking of culture, which is the last book that you read? 
I am currently reading a book called “Playing With Fire” by Lawrence O’Donnell, who is an American Journalist. The problem is that I don’t have as much time to read as I would like

While you are on the road did you find the time to improve your technical skills on your instrument? Do you think is it important?
When I have been touring, it is hard to find places to practice, especially in hotel rooms. But where I could, I found a practice room.


Can you describe the process you go through when you are writing a song? What inspires you to write?
Sometimes I hear a melody or I am sitting at the piano playing around with harmonies. But other times, I hear words and then I try and put them to music. I am mostly inspired by the emotional complexities of life.
Album/Ep/Singles any favorite way to release your music? and why?
I am old fashioned. I release physical CD’s and digital music. I like both.
How do you plan an album production and his release?
I fly by the seat of my pants. This is an expression to mean that I often don’t know where I’m headed. Another expression is that I “fly blind.” I will go into a rehearsal or the studio with the written music and a concept, and then just let the music flow. I don’t like forcing players to do certain things. Everybody needs to be comfortable so they can do their best.


When you release an album how much is important for you the tracklist? And the time between the tracks?
The tracklist is very important to me. I am picky about the finished product so even the space between the tracks matters to me.
Do you produce your records by yourself or do you prefer to have some extra ears or a producer to guide you?
I have never had the budget for a producer so I have produced every project myself. However, I rely on my relationships with my fellow musicians so much that it becomes a collaborative experience and I feel I get their help that way.
Did you record your music in a rented professional studio, home studio or in any other way?
Rented professional studio.
How did you choose the musicians for your album?
I hire musicians for their talents and their open hearts.
Did you mix and master your album/tracks in different ways for digital and physical releases?
No, I don’t believe so. I always have a professional engineer so I leave that all up to the engineer. But I walk away with one master, not two.

 “Jannotta’s suite is filled with poignant, heartfelt movements . . . Lately with the climate of hatred growing in our society, this was a breath of fresh air that reached beyond the lines trending news and delved into the subject of being human.” Bea


Are your records only digital or also physically distributed?
Both digital and physical.
What types of promotion and marketing have you found to work best for an independent artist?
For the indie artist with a limited budget, I think social media is key. I am currently doing radio and podcasts every chance I get. I use Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and I try to take people along with me through producing an album, performing in clubs, or presenting at schools. I try to make it personal by using social media.
There are some music industry analysts who argue that the CD is dying. What percentage of your sales are physical CDs and what percentage of your sales are in other forms (e.g. online)? Do you see that changing significantly in the future?
I’m afraid I don’t have the answer for that. I have not watched the trend that closely because I still like both physical product as well as digital. I like to hold something in my hand other than an iPod. So I will continue to create both forms until I am told I can’t.
How do you normally promote your latest releases? Do you use only social networks or also other ways?
I use social media and a gig.
Do you use Facebook/twitter/instagram sponsored post for promotion? You think could be they helpful?
I have used Facebook sponsored posts. But they are the only social media platform I have purchased promotion on. The others confuse me. LOL I think they can work but you have to be very specific with your target audience.
Have you a mailing list? I personally use MailChimp.You think is a “must have” as most people in music business said?
I do have a mailing list. An email list and a physical mailing list. I think the email list is probably the most important but I like to have both.
Do you think that, with all the digital alternatives, radio airplay still has an effect on the success of a release? And how does an independent artist get radio airplay?
I always hire a promoter for print and radio. I’m not sure it brings in sales, however you can build on the good press or a good review on your social media.
What do you think about streaming services like Spotify and Pandora?
I’m not sure. I don’t do a lot with either platform. But I am a member of Grammy Advocacy and we try to help music creators get fair pay for music played on these streaming platforms.
About discover music Follow our IndieViews Spotify Playlist :

toni Jannotta


Did you work with booking agencies or you manage your own gigs?
I manage my own.

How do you promote a gig in a new town/country/region?
Social media and posters at venues. Sometimes I am lucky enough to get an article in a local paper announcing a release or a gig.
Organizing a tour could be really expensive especially if you travel with a band far away from your country, how do you manage everything to earn and don’t loose money?
When I used to tour in Europe, I always went alone. I picked up musicians in the different countries I played. They were referred to me by other musicians from home who had traveled abroad. But even though I didn’t travel with a band, it still took a few years before I made a profit. I had to keep trying to build on the previous tour.
Did you sell your physical CDs, Merchandising and other?
I sold my physical CD’s.
Somebody says that House Concert are the future of live music as many club are closing. What do you think about it? Have you organized any?
I LOVE house concerts. If they are not the future, they should be. I still enjoy club work, as long as the club owner is not crazy. But with a house concert, you have an intimate experience with a listening audience. What could be better?
Do you have any suggestions for somebody who would host an house concert?
Get lots of chairs. Haha. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Do a house concert with a band or musician you admire and build on the experience. I’m sure your house concerts will get better and better. So far for me, though, I have not produced a house concert. I’ve been producing events at venues outside of home.
Every time you play your music you are giving a big part of you to your crowd, do you feel tension before a concert? If yes how do you manage it?
When I first started singing out, I used to get very scared. I would have weird dreams. The only way I could manage it was by not managing it at all. I simply got up and sang. Or I got up and played piano. Or I got up and narrated to my musical suite. Each time I did it, it got easier.
Which is the difference between a big audience or a small one?
No difference. It is whether people are listening, not how many people there are.
Each of us has some expectations before a show, which are yours? What would you love to “have back” during a concert or what you already receive? 
When I sing, I want to sing freely and relax. I want to tell the truth through the song. When I narrate to my musical suite, I want to do a good acting job and not force. I want to be honest and authentic. That is what I strive for.



Have you a daily business routine? Checking/writing E-mail, phone calls, create new connections?
Yes, I check emails. I write. I do all the above. And when I’m through, I do it all over again. Haha. It is never ending.
Which percentage of your time is dedicated to: “Creating Music”, “Promotion”, “Organizing gigs/tour”, “Studying”, “Reading”, “Listening Music”
That depends on the phase I’m in. When I’m producing a project, that is all I do. A week or two before a gig, I practice my voice. That is all I do. When I’m writing, that is all I do. If I tried to do everything at the same time, nothing would get done. Right now, I am promoting so that is mostly what I do every day. It is my least favorite part of the music business, by the way.
Do you think that the Artist status is compatible with the entrepreneurship? Do you think that an Indie artist needs to be also an Entrepreneur?
Yes, that’s an interesting question. I absolutely agree. An indie artist has no backing so you have to become an entrepreneur. You have to.
As an artist, which are the biggest differences between being represented by a major label or being representing by yourself?
I have no idea. Haha. I’ve always been independent. But my friends have had their complaints, if they felt their label was not giving them enough attention. As an indie you can give yourself all the attention you need. You just have to accept that the buck stops with you.
Which PRO (Performing Rights Organization) are you affiliate with and why did you choose that?
I am with BMI. I decided on BMI because I had heard most jazz musicians were with them.
Did you use any other service to collect your royalties?
I should be with Suisa. That is on my “to do” list. Join Suisa. Because my first two vocal jazz albums were distributed by TCB Music in Montreux Switzerland and they paid royalties to Suisa.
As a full time musician I immediately realized that I can’t only work as musician and I should extend my expertise in different fields. So, I became a Sound Engineer, composer, producer too. Did you also develop different fields? Which one? What do you like and do not like about each one?
I became a vocal instructor. I love teaching voice. I began composing and writing. I enjoy those a lot. I do not like being a producer. I do not like that I am good at it because it is so much work.


What’s your relationship with the social networks?
I work with Facebook all through the day.
I go on and off of Twitter during the day.
I don’t work with it a lot.
As often as possible, I upload photos.
Do you have any suggestions for a young musician that is thinking to start with his carrer?
Focus on music first and business second. Once you have a solid understanding of your music, take time off to study the business. I read a book called, “This Business of Music.” What a boring book. But . . . it is a must-read.






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