Now entering its 5th year, The Mile of Music is a free music festival that takes place in 70 different venues in downtown Appleton. The 850 plus concerts feature over 230 artists performing original music (no cover songs) in a wide variety of genres from indie rock, to country, soul, R & B, jazz and folk. This year’s event is from August 3rd to 6th.
Dave Willems, who is one of the co-founders and serves as president, provided an overview of the Mile of Music including how it got to where it’s at. The genesis for the event was two people having a talk about wanting to have a local event that would promote independent music.
The Mile of Music operates on an annual budget of $1 million dollars. Of this, about $550,000 is in cash, the remaining $450,000 is in-kind donations. As this is a free music festival, it is sponsorship driven. Willems noted that attendees have showed their support by purchasing artist’ CDs and logo wear as well as spending money at the local establishments that host the performances.
While it is considered a “sidewalk festival,” 80% of the venues are indoors. Willems said that while working with the local business is what gives the festival it’s special charm, it also is their biggest challenge – having live music performances in areas that are not set up for it. Working with the business owners, as well as accommodating performers has allowed them to overcome this challenge.
When the festival started in 2013, the Appleton Post Crescent still had a strong presence in the local market Thanks to his PR company, Willems had formed strong ties to the paper. He leveraged that support, and the Post Crescent played a key role in getting the word out and building awareness early on. If they were starting from scratch today, Willems said they’d have to incorporate a different strategy.
Willems said they have a strong online presence and incorporate social media to keep the Mile of Music top of mind year ‘round. Their robust website includes a list of performers – including links to the artist’s individual websites, a calendar of events, information about Music Makers program, email sign up, an online store, and information about volunteer opportunities. The Music Makers program allows people to provide financial support while enjoying perks including preview concerts, tickets for a kickoff event, access to an exclusive lounge and more….
There are more notes to share! The above is just a snippet from the notes shared amongst membership. Don’t miss out on our next program and Join today to get the first-hand experience and full meeting highlights.