Spread The Music virtual festival to raise more money for the Michigan Artist Relief Fund
When the pandemic first hit over a year ago, live music was suddenly silenced, and musicians, fans and supporters scrambled to find new ways to stay connected.
The Michigan Music Alliance, a 501c3 nonprofit organization quickly stepped up, shifting its focus from music business education, to one centered solely on sustaining the artists struggling in our community.
Launching the Michigan Artist Relief Fund, the group hosted the first-ever Spread The Music live virtual festival last March, when it raised over $20,000 and helped musicians, fans and other supporters interact in an entirely new way.
“When I organized the first festival, it was an immediate response to a crisis and came together in just a few days,” Elle Lively, executive director for the Michigan Music Alliance, told Revue. “I never thought I’d undertake something like that again, but seeing the impact it had on artists in our community and how much awareness it raised for the Michigan Artist Relief Fund, I realized we couldn’t not do it again. It was fun, effective and just what a lot of us needed at that time, and still do.
“Music is so healing, and we need all the songs wrapped around us that we can get.”
The festival will return for its second year, March 25-28, and will livestream at facebook.com/michiganmusicalliance.
The format of the festival will run largely the way it did last year, with performers streaming live online. Michigan’s own The Accidentals are set to headline, alongside other surprise Michigan-based headliners yet to be announced.
Overwhelmed by the response from volunteer artists all over the state who wanted to get involved this year, the Michigan Music Alliance aims to have 200 artists on board for this year’s festival, which will feature 50 percent female and/or nonbinary artists performing.
Following last year’s Spread The Music, the Michigan Artist Relief Fund went on to raise almost $40,000 by summer, and the group hopes to raise over $50,000 this year before it opens up applications for recipients this spring.
Fans from across the state, country and world tuned in and donated last year, including in Australia, the U.K., South Africa, Japan and Germany. Those looking to help can donate directly to the Michigan Artist Relief Fund, purchase Support Michigan Music merchandise online, share on social media, or suggest local businesses who might want to get involved or sponsor the event.
“The past year has hit artists and venues in a unique way and left them without many options,” Lively said. “The Michigan Artist Relief Fund helped people make their car payment, pay rent, and make sure they were able to provide for their children. We were able to band aid the situation before unemployment was straightened out and made available to self-employed artists.”
Sadly, many artists have had to find other ways to supplement their income or shift their career as the pandemic has continued into 2021, and Lively explained that the Michigan Music Alliance remains dedicated to building sustainable community through music business education, and access to free resources, including mental health resources.
So even when things return to “normal,” look for the Michigan Artist Relief Fund, and the Spread The Music virtual festival to continue in 2022 and beyond.
“There is no shortage of need and no shortage of music,” Lively said. “As long as we feel that artists need a safety net, we will do our best to be there for them. Their music is always there for us, so it is our way of trying to help the community in Michigan give back to its creatives. Our long term goal is to turn the fund into an emergency fund for artists who have unforeseen circumstances like health issues and just need a one-time leg up so they can focus on what is important- being healthy and safe.”