Future of Music in Montana

Future of Music in Montana

Future of Music in Montana

We never imagined we’d have this long of a pause in seeing live music, as the pause that was forced upon us from the Covid-19 Pandemic. What has felt like years anytime I think about playing a live show, or a memory surfaces from past performances, a pit forms. It’s been painful to say the least. Talking with friends about this feeling provides a sense of community, and a strange sense of normalcy. We can choose to sit in this place of uncertainty, or dream for the  future of music in Montana. I choose to dream. 

Let’s expand and evolve our music scenes. We need to rethink music venues’ reliance on alcohol. Why should music venues rely primarily on alcohol sales? Should live music function as a way to bring patrons to a bar? How about earlier shows centered around giving the artist a stage and an attentive audience? How about late night shows with your favorite local band creating the soundtrack to your dancing? There are alternatives. We can honor the artist, the early bird, the night owl, and the venues. 

Will you dream with me?

Let’s address safety. We need to build safe, inclusive communities around live music. One too many times we have heard stories of a friend being drugged, harassed, assaulted or feared getting home safely leaving a show. We have to do better. Our music venues need to join in this conversation, and be an active participant in creating an environment that honors the safety of ALL. With that said, MAMA is grateful to partner with Make Your Move! Missoula. Their entire staff has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to create a curriculum that addresses the concerns of community members in Missoula. 

Do you dream of a better music scene? Let’s take action. Let’s take care of one another. Let’s respect boundaries. Let’s lean into the intermission we have been given. I encourage you to pick up the guitar, start that hobby, learn a new skill, write a letter, call a loved one…maybe your mama? Whatever you do, do it with purpose and with the hope of a better tomorrow. I look forward to the reality we dream up together and being together again celebrating local and independent music, and how far we’ve come. 

Spaces: A Place For All of Us

Spaces: A Place For All of Us

Spaces: A place for all of us

For years musicians have found spaces that allow creation. A basement, an empty garage, a childhood bedroom….you name it, they’ve played it. And as the world continues to turn and expand it has become harder to find available spaces. Noise ordinances have fought back against the sound of drums in the wee hours of the morning, roommates put their foot down when too many band members had crowded into the living room, and the cost of living chased out the glimmering hope of rehearsal space as prices skyrocketed.  

What is a musician to do?

We’ve watched our Missoula music scene shift and shape into what it is today. We saw venues close and open and close again. We saw touring acts come through Missoula and local acts dwindle. We saw the rise of the DIY underground scene. We saw house shows pop up and become a staple of Missoula. We saw the creativity and collaboration pool together for unique outdoor music experiences. We saw Missoula become a music hub of the Northwest and questioned how musicians still weren’t compensated fairly. If our musicians weren’t compensated fairly, how in the world could they afford spaces to rehearse and hone in on their craft to give audiences the music and performances they deserved?

This issue is not unique to our growing city. And unless we begin to address this as a community now the issue will only get bigger and bigger and more and more creatives will be pushed back into the basements that are unfit for living and existing in. 

It takes 10,000 hours to become a master of anything. And even then the master isn’t satisfied and will work to learn more. 10,000 hours by one person. Now add up all the creatives you know and ask yourself, “what did it take for them to get where they are?”. You must know by now that they didn’t just show up on a stage polished and ready to go as is. They took time to learn their craft, hone their craft, collaborate their craft, market and promote their craft, rehearse hour after hour to prepare to step on that stage. The value of a professional musician exceeds the miniscule amount they are usually offered, and so the vicious cycle of the starving artist begins. 

Right now, while the world of live performance stands still we are gifted with reflection to learn and correct the ways we have failed local music. We must do better by our local musicians who are out there working each day to bring you the music you love. And as people continue to flock and raise the prices of rent and resources we mustn’t forget what makes our city so special. The creators of the city are a part of our culture and community. 

That is why MAMA dreams as big as we do. And when the day comes that we are able to create our very own space, we will create it with the musicians, artists and collaborators of Missoula in mind. A space to rehearse, learn, expand, connect and dream without limitation or fear of cost. We will create a space accessible to all that wish to better themselves, their music and their community. We hope to see you there one day soon. 

Reflecting and Letting Go

Reflecting and Letting Go

Reflecting and Letting go of the vision we had for 2020, Building a different vision for 2021

When the year rang new, all of us at MAMA were excited for the vision of what 2020 would be. Expansion, events that spotlighted local musicians, bringing on fresh ideas and collaborators, growing in our reach, and launching our bread and butter, “MAMAcademy”.  But like so many of us, we hung it up on the wall and hoped that the days would bring us better news of cases declining, communities rebuilding, and people helping people. Like so many of us, we released what little control we had and watched everything that we knew change before our very eyes. 

Days passed and we began to reevaluate everything we had planned. How was a budding organization supposed to stay relevant when the music scene we had built ourselves in wasn’t even an option to participate in? How could we support all the people we had hoped to help? How were we going to impact the communities across Montana if they didn’t even know who MAMA was? It’s safe to say we began to feel defeated. 

I know a lot of us felt that way this year. A collective despair hung over our lives like a dark cloud. We each wondered “when will this end?”, “what’s next?”, “what are we supposed to do now?” Like any good opportunity to grow, a challenger appears. Whether it is the voice in our heads that says we can’t, the barriers our society makes so that we can be safe, or a pandemic that throws a variety of curveballs. We had to make a decision. Stay down or get up and try again. Through the eyes of the community we were able to get back up and keep moving forward with a new focus, “plan for normal, prepare for not.” 

Adapting to the changing environment we were presented with a series of gifts. Missoula Gives gave us the gift of witnessing the loyalty that existed to this music scene and the generosity of  a community in times of hardship. We were gifted with dedication of individuals eager to connect, rebuild, lend their ideas, their donations, and their time to our mission. It was the gift (and curse) of zoom meetings that brought strangers together in a moment of shared desolation and grief for the loss of the shared wound, our beloved Missoula music scene. When summer hit, we were given time to focus on the internal structures of creating a nonprofit. Hunkering down we took a pause to dive deeper into the machine that is filing for 501c3 nonprofit status. 

It wasn’t the way we wanted the year to go. But it was the way that it went. Instead of getting hung up on all the things we “could have done, if only the year was different”- we decided to look at all the things we did accomplish in light of a pandemic. 

MAMA participated in our first ever Missoula Gives and received almost $3000 from 48 generous donors while live streaming 15 hours of 25 local artists. MAMA filed and is now recognized as a 501c3 nonprofit. MAMA appointed 9 individuals to our first official Board of Directors. MAMA hosted its first Miles of Music event, showcasing 10 artists along the Milwaukee Trail. MAMA continued to develop MAMAcademy with the help of its Education Committee to launch January 2021. MAMA continued to develop new partnerships and strengthen existing partnerships through participating in upcoming events such as: ARTS Missoula- First Night Spotlight and The Missoula Arts Museum- Annual Auction. We even got to celebrate the graduation of two original MAMA movers and shakers, Jackelyn Stob (brand ambassador/ brand creator) moved East and is moving up the ranks in the world of graphic and web design. And Aeriel Martens took the knowledge she learned through the Entertainment Management program at the U of M and as president of Baby MAMA (MAMA’s collegiate affiliation) South to further the music community and advance her skillset. 

The point of all this…MAMA is still here. And we are so ready to give you the events we were so eager to give. We want to help, and we won’t give up on our vision. Although it took more from us than any other year, it also gave us reflection, time to grow, gratitude for the things/people/places we have, and a drive to keep moving forward. So cheers to 2020 and all of the lessons it taught us. Don’t give up just yet my friend, we’re only going up from here.