New program applies gener8tor model to music business

A new program from gener8tor and 88Nine Radio Milwaukee applies the nationally ranked startup accelerator’s model to the music business.

Backline was created to be a stepping stone for young musicians, but also to help all Milwaukee musicians flourish and boost the city’s reputation as a great place for music.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee’s executive director, Glenn Kleiman, says it will help area 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 the music,” he said. “Backline addresses those needs.”

Four musicians or bands in the area will be recruited for the program’s first 12-week session, which is similar to gener8tor’s business startup program. Each will be able to get up to $20,000 to support the basics: recording, promotion and touring.

Backline will use gener8tor’s application process for this first session this year. The group plans to hold two sessions each year starting in 2019.

According to Kleiman, the goal of this program isn’t to transform musicians into business people. It’s meant to be a bridge between young, talented musicians and industry experts who can provide guidance.

“In the music world, ‘backline’ is the equipment a venue provides touring musicians — the amsp, drums, maybe a bass guitar,” Kleiman noted. “To musicians, ‘backline’ signifies support. And support is what we’re about.”

Joe Kirgues, co-founder of gener8tor, says Backline would provide professional advice over a “short and intense period,” much like most business accelerators.

“To make it today, musicians need talent and music industry knowledge,” Kirgues said. “Our accelerators will teach them valuable entrepreneurial skills, including what they can do on their own and how to procure services and navigate the industry to succeed.”

Musicians and bands can apply between June 4 and 29. Backline is also seeking a program director, for which applications are being accepted through April 13.

Backline will also host free workshops quarterly featuring local experts in the music scene, as well as national professionals. Workshops will be recorded and posted online, along with other informational materials for anyone looking to break into the music world. The first workshop will be held in June.

“While the funding part of our program directly benefits a select group of recipients, the workshops and web content will be open to the entire music community,” Kleiman said.

A kickoff event for any interested musicians will be held at 6:30 p.m. on April 5 at the 88Nine studios in Milwaukee.

See more program info here:

–By Alex Moe