Photo Credit: Naima Shalhoub, Live in San Francisco County Jail
What is the Activist Musician Accelerator (AMA)?
The AMA is an innovative, hands-on, paid professional development opportunity for musician artists who seek to be effective social change agents. Selected artists become part of a learning network – connecting with each other as well as live and online workshops and mentoring sessions. Over 8-10 months, each participating artist develops a 'fundable' pilot project, in collaboration with an area nonprofit and other allies, focused on addressing an issue of concern. Upon graduation, Music to Life helps them produce "MtLx": an infomercial-style showcase of their work blending song, story telling and a call to action. These showcases are offered as ticketed events that raise awareness for the issue and support for the pilot.
Musicians alone, however, are only part of the AMA's impact and benefit equation. As part of the process, community partners are engaged in a mutually reinforcing and beneficial cycle of care and giving back:
- Local/regional educational institutions, artist affinity groups and performance venues host artist gatherings and offer instructional and technical assistance;
- Banks and like-minded businesses underwrite programming and provide loaned executives for the business/marketing aspects of the AMA curriculum;
- Civic leaders and nonprofits offer referrals, their expertise around the issue-area, and, in some cases, fiscal sponsorship for the final pilot.
Why the AMA is Different
The AMA builds, engages and sustains relationships among previously unconnected entities (local/regional musicians, social enterprise orgs and supporters) by incentivizing their participation and delivering cross-sector benefits:
- Values promotion
- Measurable community impact
- Diversified constituent base
- New skills, tools, resources
How it Works
- Identify & Partner with like-minded community hosts: universities, associations, conferences, festivals
- Identify & Engage participants. Music to Life does a competitive search and application process to screen local artists of all genres and identify the most dynamic, social media savvy, well-connected (hits, followers, likes and fan base) artists of all genres who have creative, entrepreneurial ideas for how to change their community. Music to Life also encourages regional/national celebs (musical or news-related) to be part of the review panel and overall Accelerator program.
- Support and Further participants & concept. Selected participants, with their music-driven concept for social justice, are enrolled in a fast-track Accelerator program designed to connect them with the resources, mentors and training they need to create high impact/high visibility programming in close partnership with frontline community organizations. These might include local university, a nonprofit collaborator, mentors and instructors from the music industry, area businesses and associations. The outcome is a functional music-driven concept to be implemented in collaboration with a social enterprise organization or nonprofit collaborator.
- Promote & Highlight the talent. Each Accelerator gets a boost through their "MtLx" showcase - an infomercial-style music-driven presentation wherein the Accelerator graduates pitch their pilot concepts to fans, area funders, civic leaders, nonprofits and businesses, and raise additional supporters and funds for their projects.
- Sustain & Amplify Impact. Once projects are underway, Accelerator graduates and their nonprofit partners are offered assistance, troubleshooting and oversight to insure that they meet their goals and that their achievements are promoted. This stage of the Accelerator is managed through affiliations with relevant local affiliates such as: Grammy and Net Impact Chapters, local Arts Councils or advocacy groups.