Hosted by Michigan Music Alliance, the star-studded live-streamed festival in March raised $11,500 in donations for the Michigan Artist Relief Fund to assist musicians hurt by the COVID-19 crisis.
EDITOR’S NOTE: No. 10 in Local Spins’ countdown of top 2020 stories spotlights something that was quite unique back in March, but has now become common: a virtual, online music festival featuring live-streamed performances by bands and solo artists. When the Michigan Music Alliance announced this multi-day affair sparked by the COVID-19 shutdown of live music, it got plenty of attention from readers, especially because — at the time — it was only the second event of its kind across the country. It also got plenty of attention when it rolled out in late March, with thousands of viewers tuning in across the globe helping raise needed dollars for the new Michigan Artist Relief Fund. And stay tuned: Michigan Music Alliance will host its second annual “Spread the Music Festival” next spring.
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Presenting: Virtual music festivals.
The latest development in the music world’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has Michigan musicians and promoters turning to live-streamed “festivals” featuring a variety of stars.
With tours canceled, venues closed and musicians hurting, the Michigan Music Alliance assembled more than three dozen Michigan bands and solo artists earlier this year to play the first-ever “Spread the Music Festival” taking place online March 26-29, 2020.
Mark Lavengood, Act Casual, The Accidentals, Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds, The Marsupials, Nicholas James Thomasma, Hannah Rose Graves, Max Lockwood, Lipstick Jodi and many more live-streamed performances from their own homes and remote locations, with Michigan Music Alliance — with help from Walk the Beat and Crooked Tree Creative — coordinating and airing the live-stream festival on its Facebook page.
The “stream-a-thon” was organized to raise attention — and donations — for the new Michigan Artist Relief Fund that’s collecting contributions that will be distributed to bands and musicians who’ve lost income and performance revenue due to canceled shows.
Elle Lively of Crooked Tree Creative said that with a “full lockdown” expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the live-streamed, virtual music festival represents an ideal way for fans to see their “favorite Michigan-based artists” from the safety of their own homes.
“The goal is to raise awareness for the fund and hopefully encourage donations by expanding the reach of our Facebook page,” she said. “Also, never had so many artists had this much free time. What better to do? I’m still adding artists and willing to add anyone else who wants to perform and join in.
“Is it possible to throw a huge music festival without it even being real?”
Starting Thursday, a different Michigan artist played a set on the hour every hour through the weekend, with viewers donating online.
(The Michigan Artist Relief Fund was established to assist Michigan musicians who’ve lost income and performance opportunities due to the current crisis. Read more about it online here. Donate to the fund here.)
UPDATE/FOLLOWUP: Following the virtual festival, Local Spins followed up with organizers. Suffice to say, they put this one in the “success” column. (Scroll down to watch some of the performance videos.)
The Michigan Music Alliance’s first-ever, all-online “Spread the Music Festival” – which featured live-stream performances by 40 Michigan artists – raised more than $11,500 to aid the Michigan Artist Relief Fund, with thousands of viewers from across the globe tuning in to the sessions.
“My favorite part was being able to see so much music and so many different artists from all over in such a short amount of time,” said Lively.
“Everyone who played has such a big heart, too. They all volunteered, artist helping artist, and it was amazing to watch some of them really share what quarantine has been like for them.”
Money raised from the event will be distributed to Michigan musicians who’ve lost income due to performance cancellations during the COVID-19 pandemic that’s scrapped tours and shut down bars and concert venues.
Many of them also were part of the four-day festival with performers live-streaming sets from their homes across the state, including Hannah Rose Graves, The Brandino Extravaganza, The Marsupials, Chris DuPont, Kaitlin Rose, Hayes Griffin, Political Lizard, Mark Lavengood, Carrie McFerrin and Cosmic Knot’s Tom Wall, who closed it all out before midnight Sunday.
In one ‘wow’ moment, Traverse City alt-folk group The Accidentals’ Sunday afternoon set raised $2,000 in just 50 minutes and collected more than 460 comments from viewers.
Sunday’s show was like playing all the best venues in the state where everyone comes out to support what Michigan has to offer and the lineup was amazing thanks to Elle,” said Sav Buist of The Accidentals, which has embraced live-streams and raised enough money through other recent shows to help cover expenses through April.
“We watched a lot of the bands on the festival and so many of them we hadn’t had a chance to catch before. We have an incredible scene and Michigan is becoming known for that. It feels amazing to be part of that.”
ATTRACTING INTERNATIONAL FANS
Lively said the sessions drew as many as 550 live viewers at a time. Most videos racked up about 1,500 views as of Monday morning, with The Accidentals’ video topping 11,000 views. Fans from as far away as the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and Germany watched the sessions.
Scroll down to watch a few of the most popular live-stream sessions; all of them remain available on the Michigan Music Alliance Facebook page and a wrap-up video of highlights is planned.
“The whole thing went really smoothly. Very excited about it,” said Lively, adding that the festival will be repeated in 2021 as the alliance’s “new flagship fundraiser. Our goal is to make the relief fund sustainable so that when something happens and someone needs emergency help, it is there.”
VIDEO: Nathan Walton
VIDEO: Escaping Pavement
VIDEO: Lipstick Jodi
VIDEO: Kaitlin Rose
VIDEO: Erin Zindle
VIDEO: Diana Ladio
VIDEO: Sandra Effert & Patty PerShayla
VIDEO: Hannah Rose Graves
VIDEO: Aunt Vicki
VIDEO: Loren Johnson
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