AMF “Feel the Love” Event
Rallies Austin’s Music-Related Non-Profits
Written by: Sweta Vakani
Austin Music Foundation (AMF) recently held their second annual “Feel the Love” Music Industry Expo at Emo’s on Riverside. Musicians, venue owners and industry professionals were invited to join the event, where music community members could connect directly with nonprofits like Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), the SIMS foundation, a health and drug counseling nonprofit, and Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts, as well as many other nonprofits that joined the expo.
Mayor Steve Adler spoke at the event, addressing the challenges that Austin music venues and musicians face in the quickly changing landscape of Austin. He talked about the initiatives of making affordable housing for Austin’s artist community and keeping Austin’s music venues alive in the face of the rising rent costs.
RAD met with AMF’s Alex Vallejo, who is currently a director with AMF and has personally consulted with over 3,000 musicians in his five years with the nonprofit. He shared more about what AMF does for Austin’s music community, their work with musicians and how the organization partners other music groups and nonprofits in town.
Sweta: Let’s talk about Austin Music Foundation's history.
I've been working with Austin Music Foundation for five years. The Music Foundation has been in Austin for about 13 years. It’s a non-profit that offers music business education to local musicians.
It was created to give local artists resources. We do music panels, all kinds of stuff, to give Austin musicians more information on how to thrive and how to succeed. The music business is super hard, as we all know. The new generation really isn't paying for music so it's even harder for musicians to make money. We really try to help give them tools and provide one-on-one consultation with these artists.
S: How do you find the artists that you connect with?
Our total mission everyday is continued outreach. That's why we had this [Feel the Love] expo. The idea was to have an event where musicians knew what was available to them. A lot of musicians that have been living here for ten, fifteen years and don't even know that they can get free health insurance or free drug counseling through SIMS or free business education through AMF.
There's over 150 music non-profits in Austin. It was really to get everybody in one room. There's a lot of musicians in here right now and maybe they have heard of AMF and don't really know what we do.
S: How do you connect with all these other organizations that were trying to provide services to musicians as well?
In general, most nonprofits work by themselves.
For this expo we bring all the nonprofits together under one roof. We do work with a lot of these nonprofits like HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) and SIMS, ACL (Austin City Limits) and Fun Fun Fun Fest. We're all buddies and we go out and hang out. It is a beautiful community. We all work together.
I think we all have the same mission that we want to help musicians
S: Are most people involved in the nonprofits musicians themselves or coming from musical backgrounds?
Yes, a lot of them are musicians. In the past twelve years, we've served over 20,000 musicians. I personally probably talked to 3000 of them!
It is to serve the musicians and we also not only work with musicians, we have the Leaders in Austin music program, a mentoring program. We work with venues and small businesses. It is all about all the music industry.
S: So the Feel the Love event is about getting all of these organizations together?
Yes, mostly just nonprofits. We've toyed around with the idea of doing the for-profits, but there's over 1000 of those. So not yet.
It’'s not only a cool event but it's so warm and fuzzy. A lot of people catching up with each other, a lot of people networking, a lot of people getting to know each other. If the bands don't come, if they're gonna sit down on their couch, it's their own fault.
Here is a prime opportunity for you to get into a room with musicians, your peers, music business people, music industry professionals.
S: Can you tell me about AMF’s work with GigTown and about GigTown as a company?
One of the main topics that bands ask about from experience from consulting with these artists is booking. They want to know how to make money, they want to know how to get gigs, they want to know how to look cool in front of our girlfriends [laughs].
It's booking and GigTown provides that. It's a great app for bands. They go make a profile on there, it helps them find venues and it helps them find other artists that can perform with. It was very in line with what we were doing and it just seemed like a good partnership.
S: What's going to be the process of an Austin musician working with AMF and GigTown?
The obvious is getting Austin artists on GigTown. That's one of the reasons that it's important to work with us, because I feel like Austin Music Foundation, we are a pipeline to Austin musicians. So, if you want to get Austin musicians on your app, come work with us. And same with them, they have a lot of success in other cities with their app and we just felt like it was a great marriage to work with them.
Not only that, ongoing I think that we're gonna do a lot of showcases, showcasing bands, showcasing bands that are on the app. Just coming up with cool things that can help the bands.
S: What other events are coming up in 2016 for AMF?
A lot, a lot. Last year, we had so many events and I can't even tell you what the number is. Probably over 40 events.
We do panels usually once a month on a specific topic that the artists need to know about, booking publishing, licensing, publicity, you can go down the list. A lot of them are seasonal, we even do how to prepare your taxes around tax time and how do you get in SXSW. Every band wants to know how to get in SXSW.
We listen to the artists you know, we're not gonna come up with a panel that they don't need help with.
AMF’s efforts in building up the Austin music community is what will keep Austin a haven for musicians and artists. It’s easy to feel the love when you have people like Alex Vallejo and AMF on the side of Austin’s music. You can find more information about GigTown and the various other nonprofits AMF works and keep up with AMF’s work at austinmusicfoundation.org.