02/15/2012 05:22 pm ET | Updated Apr 16, 2012

Live With Music or Die With Noise: Book a Band, Create a Job

Blink. Blink. Blink.

I can't take it anymore. I compulsively check my Blackberry to see whether a colleague or board member needs my attention. Send a blizzard of texts, scan my drafted emails, and stream an audio book. I'm totally plugged in.

I cruise through Grand Central, however, I'm hooked by the soulful musicians busking with an earthy groove. I'm transfixed, my feet rooted. I disconnect from the world around, and the underbelly of this station becomes my jazz club. Acclaimed writer Ralph Ellison said we can live with music or die with noise. I choose to live.

In the jazz world, however, it's not much of a choice. It's all about the live experience, and feeding off the exuberance and verve of the performer. Each surprising new sound is a sonic fingerprint unique to the musician. Whether you're in a dimly lit cocktail lounge filled with cigar smoke, waiting for the "A" train to Harlem, or passing through Bryant Park on a sunny summer afternoon, live music captivates and inspires.

Live music is part of the important "creative economy." Promoting live music rejuvenates the life-blood of a community, bringing people together to experience life at its acoustic best, unplugged. Furthermore, supporting musicians and creating performance opportunities can stimulate the overall creative economy. The arts generate $166.2 billion in economic activity, provides 5.7 million American jobs and return nearly $30 billion in revenue to the government each year. More local music enables retail establishments to thrive, governments to benefit from increased tax revenue, and more musicians to get paid to do what they love. One of the largest contributors to the NYC economy is the creative sector.

In the bleak winter of 2008 in the midst of a global recession I began volunteering with a group of bankers, entrepreneurs, and local business owners who hosted jazz salons across the country with Music For Tomorrow. Music was the piece of my life I had been missing and I eventually realized that our country was in a similar quandary. Out with the noise.

Music For Tomorrow (MFT) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that creates performance opportunities for local jazz musicians to stimulate the creative economy. MFT launched in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and destroyed the homes and livelihoods of many musicians. In an effort to help, MFT hosted gigs to raise funds for displaced musicians, generating awareness of the cause and jazz music.

Since then, we at Music for Tomorrow have created a way to help you live with music. Live music.

Book a Band. Create a Job

Our online jazz booking service enables you to book a band for any kind of function at your own price for a minimum of $100 per hour. Cocktail parties, conference receptions, weddings, award ceremonies, charity events, you name it. Anyone orchestrating an event or production that can use a jazz soloist or ensemble can specify their requirements, name their own price (within reason), and have a handful of bands responding to your request within the hour.

We give you exactly what you need for a transformative live music experience. Specify your own price, time, instruments, jazz genre, favorite songs, and we'll do the rest. Music For Tomorrow's online band booking service has connected over 100 jazz musicians with audiences. We have worked with Fortune 50 companies as well as cultural institutions. We're an officially recognized partner of the United Nations. Music For Tomorrow's database of artists is growing daily, as we are committed to spreading the word of jazz and its talent.

Our sustainable "tip jar" model enables bookers to donate voluntarily a recommended 10 percent to our cause. Everything raised past operational costs is given right back into the creative economy of New Orleans to socially responsible organizations that support the local community. We create jobs for musicians, raise money for New Orleans, and create magical musical experiences for a wide variety of occasions.

After Google booked their Nonprofit Holiday Mixer on the Music For Tomorrow website, the Community Affairs Manager said, "MFT provided me exactly what I was looking for my Google Nonprofit Holiday Mixer...MFT was able to source 19 quality options within 48 hours. Impressive! 5 star experience!" Our service is able to accommodate any request because of the size and variety of our curated pool of talented musicians.

No request is too big or too small. Valentine's Day recently brought us requests for soloists and duos to perform for romantic dinners for two. Mardi Gras is approaching and we have requests for swingin' New Orleans themed brass bands. Music For Tomorrow is popular with wedding planners, corporate event coordinators, and gallery owners as well. We've also seen significant interest with restaurants and jazz clubs who have booked bands for dinners and shows.

What New Yorkers are realizing is that you don't need to be a professional party planner to utilize our service. In just a few minutes and clicks of a mouse you can submit a request for an ensemble to perform at your summer clambake out east, your church's annual courtyard picnic, or your best friend's birthday party.

The feedback from our musicians has been the key to why we continue to do what we do Gregorio Uribe, leader of the Gregorio Uribe Big Band, says, "MFT is simple, trustworthy and there's no catch. It's been a great way to book gigs that match my style of music and from experience I know that MFT is there to help musicians like myself."

Jazz is just as much about the experience for our musicians as it is for those organizing and listening. Musicians support our service because we enable them to pursue their passions fully. A musician thanked us once because we helped him pay his rent for the month. That's powerful, knowing we're out there making lives easier and supporting local communities.

Revitalizing neighborhoods, creating opportunities, building a better America, and all that... jazz.

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