Pete Muller
Founder | Live Music Society

Originally founded by Pete Muller to provide pandemic relief, the Live Music Society continues to support independent music rooms across the U.S.

To date, the non-profit organization has awarded $3 million across four grant cycles, with this year’s two grants totaling $600,000.

“While performance venues had acutely critical needs during the pandemic, the gap in funding for these spaces existed before COVID-19 and remains today,” said Muller. “Small venues have long struggled to attain the recognition and support they need to survive, and that vulnerability is accentuated during economic downturns due to their narrow profit margins.”
Venues benefiting this year include Drom in New York, The Happy Dog in Cleveland, The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, DazzleJazzle Inc. in Denver, Big Room Bar in Columbus and Sunset Tavern in Seattle.

“These venues confront a multitude of challenges, including staffing shortages and escalating fixed expenses like rent and insurance, which have surged by as much as 20 to 30 percent in some cases,” Muller added.

“These factors collectively contribute to the persisting economic hardships faced by small venues, rendering it a daunting task to transition from mere survival to a business model that propels sustainable growth and prosperity.”

The Live Music Society aids the effort with Music in Action (MiA) and the new Toolbox grant, which is designed to help venues by addressing practical challenges. The idea is to enable them to enhance the overall live music experience for musicians, staff and audiences.

A fresh round of the Toolbox grant will launch in September. A second round of the Music in Action grants will take place early next year.

“We’re also focused on evaluating the impact of our programs,” Muller said. “It’s important that we are as effective and efficient as possible in our effort to maintain accessibility to live music and the venues that make this possible.”

As an artist/songwriter Muller has a personal understanding of the potential impact.

“Small independent venues are indispensable to fostering artistic growth and nurturing creativity,” he said. “The intimacy of small spaces creates a rich emotional connection between the performer and the audience. An artist can be more vulnerable and take more risks in the safety of a small and supportive crowd.” — Wendy Pearl

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