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Montana music nonprofit looks at ways to support scene during pandemic

Montana music nonprofit looks at ways to support scene during pandemic

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While venues for musicians are closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, a nonprofit group that promotes and supports players is continuing to look for ways to help.

The Montana Area Music Association will hold its next meeting online via Zoom, and is examining ways to spread the word about live-streaming concerts, the only remaining avenue to safely perform for the public, and raising money to aid players.

The organization was started last year, originally focused on Missoula, but changed its name to reflect statewide aspirations for growth. It counts 170 members, mostly in the Garden City and surrounding area.

Its general meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 7, at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Zoom, the video conferencing app. They want to “get as many individuals across the state and let them know who we are,” said Maria Zepeda, MAMA’s president and a singer-songwriter.

To get a link for the meetings, go to the MAMA Facebook and Instagram accounts. For more information or to submit or join, go to

They’ve had to rethink some of their offerings due to the “stay at home” orders from the state government. They used to host Songwriters Circle events, where established and up-and-coming performers could share their work. As that’s no longer an option, they’re instead looking at the creation of a MAMA Radio Hour, curated from submissions, that can be posted online or shared with radio stations. The music can consist entirely of tracks recorded before the pandemic, Zepeda said. They’re discouraging people from recording new material unless they can do so safely by themselves at home, and are “stressing the fact that we’re taking this seriously and not scheduling band rehearsals with a full group,” she said.

They also hope to help spread information about live-streamed concerts, a format that many local musicians have turned to after all non-essential businesses are now closed. A staff member is going to compile lists of submissions with links that will go out in a newsletter. During the meeting on Tuesday, they’ll also discuss tips and tricks for players to live-stream themselves.

Since online is one of the few avenues available, the group is also going to produce an artist spotlight on Fridays on its Facebook and Instagram pages.

The group will also be campaigning during the upcoming Missoula Gives and Bitterroot Gives nonprofit fundraising drives. A portion of its funds will go to the Montana Music Relief Fund, a GoFundMe-based effort started in the Flathead. MAMA’s current fiscal sponsor is Arts Missoula, and they plan to step out on their own this summer. The group is currently volunteer-driven, and they want to be able to raise money and pay their staff, as the mission statement includes promoting fair compensation for musicians.

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