Live Tech: Lovano’s Jammcard Looks To Revolutionize Session, Touring Industry

Rodji Munoz
– Jammcard
Jammcard founder Christopher “Elmo” Lovano and recent Jammcard investor Quincy Jones.

Jammcard founder Elmo Lovano has been scheming up the app, dubbed the Music Professionals’ Network, almost from the beginning of his career as a 15-year-old drummer on tour with a punk-rock group called Limit Point, going on to work with the likes of Juliette Lewis, Miley Cyrus and Skrillex, among others.

The now 35-year-old Lovano’s app that Forbes dubbed “LinkedIn for musicians,” recently marked its third anniversary – and its expansion from L.A. into New York, Atlanta and Nashville – with a series of JammJam events in Hollywood.  The JammJam is a reccuring staple of Jammcard, with exclusive gatherings and performances from musicians and music professionals. There have been about 20 of these events in various cities so far. 
A recent JammJam tribute to George Clinton, featured Ice Cube, Anderson .Paak, CeeLo Green and Flea. Another recent event honored Thriller and Quincy Jones, a recent Jammcard investor, with appearances by noted Michael Jackson collaborator Greg Phillinganes and recently named Recording Academy Chairman Harvey Mason Jr. 
A notable aspect of all the JammJam events is how the musicians are not up on a stage but perform in the round, the crowd surrounding them on all sides, emblematic of the inclusionary aspect of the project.
“It really is all about community,” said Lovano, who came up with the idea for the app when constantly approached for recommendations for all sorts of music pros while assembling performance showcases, leading him to create a social network for freelancers. “Everyone’s equal in a circle, and it gives everyone a clean line of sight to each other. It’s the live version of a recording session set-up, a nice warm musical hug.”
Jammcard is not just for hiring session musicians, but helps in assembling the touring entourage – crew, musical directors, producers, engineers, road managers, lighting directors – essentially the infrastructure required for both the live and recorded music ecosystems. Members are admitted only after a thorough vetting process that confirms the applicants are full-time music industry pros, which has kept members above 7,000.  While he doesn’t charge anything to join, Lovano monetizes his activities by offering to consult record labels, management companies and even artists in putting together their road entourages.  Recent teams that have used the platform include Gwen Stefani, Zedd, Maren Morris, Jason Derulo and Kanye West, with Jammcard member, musical director/ producer Phil Cornish, hiring choir members and musicians via the app for the rapper’s heavily publicized Sunday Service in Calabasas.
“Our whole approach is quality over quantity,” explained Lovano. “We want our members and users to be a great representation of what we are and will do great work. That curation is what our brand, our community, stands for.”
Jammcard seems a natural partner for the Recording Academy, whose Grammy Pro website seems to have lost some momentum.  To that end, Lovano, an active NARAS voter, has been elected to the Recording Academy’s prestigious membership committee, which also includes John Legend, L.A. Branch President Evan Bogart and Apple Beats 1’s Julie Pilat, among others.
The Recording Academy has also licensed “How I Got the Gig,” an ongoing Jammcard web series in which Lovano interviews members about working as session players with Prince and others. Other programming includes “Gear Goggles” and “Drummers in a Drum Room.”  Jammcard is also producing two music documentaries that focus on app members, including “Trap Jazz,” featuring Devon “Stixx” Taylor, Chris Moten and Cassius Jay, who serenade Quincy with a version of his “Soul Bossa Nova” to kick off a recent, packed JammJam held at Musician’s Institute’s Live House in Hollywood. 
“I’m here to help the music industry in any way I can,” said Lovano, who received the “Elmo” nickname as a teenager on the road when his face turned red with laughter. “I’ve been a music professional for 20 years and I want the industry to be the best it can possibly be. Jammcard is a vehicle to create that kind of positive force and momentum.”
As to attacking the music industry’s “inefficiencies” from without rather than within, Lovano quotes the philosopher Sting, “The only way to win the game is to play your own game right next to the game.”
“We stand for excellence in music,” he concluded. “We’re artist-friendly. We’re here to build value for everyone… labels, managers and artists.”