Non-comm Triple A Radio Milwaukee (WYMS) has announced the creation of Backline, a grant and educational initiative in partnership with business accelerator gener8tor to help Milwaukee musicians succeed, establish Milwaukee’s reputation as an emerging music city and help Milwaukee companies attract and retain young employees. Backline will recruit four Milwaukee area musicians or bands for its first 12-week session this summer, modeled on gener8tor’s nationally ranked business start-up accelerator.
Selected musicians and groups will be eligible to receive grants of $20,000 for financial support and initiatives identified through the accelerator process, such as recording, promotion and touring. Backline will also produce and host free, quarterly workshops on navigating the music business, with local and national industry professionals sharing expertise. Backline will post workshop videos and related educational materials on its website.
A kickoff event for interested musicians and sponsors takes place at the 88Nine studios from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Thursday April 5. Backline will use gener8tor’s accelerator application and interview process to select recipients for the first session. gener8tor staff and a group of music industry professionals from outside of Milwaukee and independent of 88Nine will choose grant recipients.
“Our goal is to help Milwaukee become known as one of the country’s most vibrant music cities,” 88Nine Radio Milwaukee Executive Director Glenn Kleiman said. “This will help our musicians, but also help our companies attract the young employees they need. Our research has shown the two biggest hurdles limiting the success of talented Milwaukee musicians are funding and knowledge of the business side of music. Backline directly addresses these needs.”
Backline is funded by organizations including Northwestern Mutual, Novo Foundation, Manpower, Quarles & Brady, Summerfest and VISIT Milwaukee and individual donors. Bentoff Communications and the Hal Leonard Corporation are providing in-kind support. Backline is seeking additional donors and corporate partners.
“Summerfest is proud to be part of Milwaukee’s music scene, one that rivals any city in the country and has helped shape our event into The World’s Largest Music Festival,” Scott Ziel, associate booking director of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., said. “It is especially exciting to be part of an initiative like Backline which further supports the development of creative Milwaukee artists and allows us to showcase our hometown talent.”
A full-time program director is being sought to run Backline, with applications being accepted through April 13 at backlinemke.org/careers. Musicians and bands of any genre can apply for the accelerator from June 4 to June 29 at the Backline website, backlinemke.org.