Music

Live Music Society Awards $710K to 24 Small Venues Via 2024 Music In Action Grants

Nonprofit foundation Live Music Society has announced the recipients of its second annual Music in Action grant.

The Music In Action grant provides funding for venues to program events that build community and promote accessibility for marginalized groups, create opportunities for both local talent and touring acts to grow and find new audiences, and increase their revenue and customer base. The number of small music venues benefitting from the program is up from 17 in 2023, while the funds have grown from $500,000 last year to $710,000 this year.

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This year, 24 small performance venues across the United States have been granted a total of $710,000 to program events that build community and boost revenue. The 24 venue grantees include Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans, Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club in Denver, Cole’s Bar in Chicago, Drkmtter Collective in Nashville, The Lost Church in San Francisco, The Royal Room in Seattle and Chris’ Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia.

The 2024 recipients will use their funds over the next year to launch concert series, put on family-friendly festivals, build out membership programs, develop spaces for LGBTQ+ musicians to gather, create educational programming and host monthly Latinx dance parties.

“People are trying to open their stages to new voices: women, BIPOC, LGBTQ and even just different styles of music that they are not used to presenting,” says Live Music Society executive director Cat Henry. “It’s really exciting for people to take a philosophical risk to make sure that they’re not just staying in one lane the whole time and providing opportunities for more voices at the table.”

For Live Music Society founder Pete Muller, the Music In Action grant is about giving people who love and know their business the ability to take a swing at something new and help build a more sustainable business for the long term. “If you have a 200-seat venue, you are not going to make a lot of money. Even if you run it well. The best shot you have is to figure out how to raise a lot of philanthropic local dollars,” says Muller. “Most of the time, it’s going to be shoestring and we can help.”

While Live Music Society does not intend to fully fund any venues, Muller says the nonprofit created the grant for them to take risks on new musicians, pay their musicians and staff reasonable wages and remain an integral part of the live music ecosystem.

“200-seat venues or 100-seat venues are an amazing place to start your musical career,” says Muller, who is also a touring musician. “I actually prefer smaller venues. You can really connect with the crowd. The only problem is, it’s very hard to make a good living.”

Live Music Society, which began handing out grants in 2020, hopes to continue growing the number of venues that receive funding through the Music In Action grant, with the amount of funds reflecting the need. With the 2024 Music In Action grant and its annual Toolbox grant, the foundation has now disbursed $3.7 million in funding to small venues.

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To further its mission to recognize and protect small venues and listening rooms across the United States, Live Music Society is also looking to help venues by developing and sharing best practices. In partnership with its venue grantees and involvement with organizations like the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) — Live Music Society will host a panel at this year’s NIVA conference in June — the foundation plans to collect expertise that it can share with small venues to help them succeed in a tough live music economy.

“One of the goals of gathering in New Orleans [for NIVA ‘24] is to help create an informal network of companies and club owners because they aren’t really competing with each other. They are in different markets,” Muller says. “If one of them finds a great musician, sharing it with a different club is helpful to both. The more you interact, the more you create community.”

Full list of 2024 Music In Action grantees:

118 North – Wayne, PA
B Side Lounge – Cleveland Heights, OH
Blue Jay Listening Room – Jacksonville Beach, FL
Bossa Bistro – Washington, D.C.
Chris’ Jazz Cafe – Philadelphia, PA
Cole’s Bar – Chicago, IL
Devil’s Backbone Tavern – Fischer, TX
Drkmttr Collective – Nashville, TN
Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center – Sarasota, FL
Grand Annex Music Hall – San Pedro, CA
Jilly’s Music Room – Akron, OH
La Peña Cultural Center – Berkeley, CA
Maple Leaf Bar – New Orleans, LA
MOTR Pub – Cincinnati, OH
Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club – Denver, CO
One Longfellow Square – Portland, ME
Rebel Rebel Studio & Lounge – Berea, KY
Roots Music Project – Boulder, CO
The Acorn Center for the Performing Arts – Three Oaks, MI
The Jalopy Theatre – Brooklyn, NY
The Lost Church – San Francisco, CA
The Parlor Room – Northampton, MA
The Royal Room – Seattle, WA
The Spot on Kirk – Roanoke, VA

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