Wisconsin Music Ventures Founder Allison Emm Keeps Local Music Alive Through Quarantine

We miss live music a lot, obviously. Many local artists have done virtual shows in empty venues, live streams from home, or limited-capacity events to fill the time. Especially for those whose livelihood depends on it, the past year has been rough. Wisconsin Music Ventures, however, has been saving the day.

Founder Allison Emm explains what it is that they do.

“When we first started, it was a pop-up concert series where we put great Wisconsin music in great Wisconsin places. The pandemic turned that around for us like it did for so many people, so we worked with our musicians to help them keep making money, keep them in contact with each other, and just support them as much as we could. Now we consider ourselves more of a live music community. We’re patron-supported, so there’s individuals and businesses that have been supporting us this whole time, which is how we’ve been able to pay the artists.”

She shares of the accomplishments Wisconsin Music Ventures has had since the pandemic hit.

“We’ve done a lot of in-person events when the weather has been acceptable – probably thirty or forty of those now. We’ve also done over fifty online events, and some of those have been through our Sunday brunch surprise concerts that we do twice a month; we’ll give clues about who the artists will be but don’t say the name until everyone arrives. We’ve done some school events for students, especially back when COVID was really in full force; students haven’t been able to go on field trips or assemblies whatsoever this year so we found a way to make some interactive concerts happen.”

There’s two membership programs they offer for artists, the Green Room and the Backstage Pass.

“The good and bad thing about being a “musicians first” organization is that musicians might start flocking to. Having the membership programs allow us to really focus on the ones involved in that. The Green Room is for artists that are a bit more established and the Backstage Pass is for those getting started out. There’s workshops, industry talk events, recorded live shows, and they get first priority any time we find gigs. They also get to connect with each other, and that’s what building a live music community is all about. We now have about thirty-five musicians from all over Wisconsin in the Green Room program, with all different genres from hip hop to rockabilly to classical to jazz – really anything.”

Emm discusses what’s in store for Wisconsin Music Ventures as the world begins to open up.

“We’re starting to book events now which is exciting. They’re for the most part outside events but we have some really great partner venues we work with; the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield is a big one of ours…No Studios and Story Hill FireHouse and Bottle House 42 in Milwaukee…Sheboygan Lutheran High School have a new performing arts center that will be a big spot for us…The Corners of Brookfield, a big shopping area…The Hometown Foundation of West Bend…The Premier in Green Bay is a newer place, kind of like the No Studios of Green Bay.”

Musicians can visit wisconsinmusicventures.com if they’d like to get involved. Open Mic Nights are held every Wednesday at 7PM. There’s a Sunday Brunch Concert this weekend as well.

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