If you’re an independent artist in the Madison music scene, getting yourself grounded in the community may prove to be difficult in times when house shows and live events are at a minimum.
Though the effort to expand a cooperative network at a steady pace may be challenging right now, three like-minded individuals from the Madison area formed the company Madison Music Experience to help independent artists establish themselves in the Madison community, and it is readily available for any artist looking to make a name for their brand.
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Cofounded by the UW alum Francisco Lozano, Micah Buffat and Alex Rogers, at its core, MMX focuses its values around building community. Prioritized at the local level, the company aims to bring the Madison artist community together.
Three pillars that define MMX are professionalism, community and creativity. The company’s goal is to bring artists together and build a network of support so art has its place in a supportive environment.
Both Buffat and Rogers grew up in the Monona area and played in bands together, Lozano met Rogers through a sublet and one thing led to another and the three decided to come together and form the company with an artist-driven agenda.
“Us coming together, we were so different,” Lozano said. “[But] with our different networks of people, we make such a great team.”
With Buffat and Rogers as instrumentalists wanting to take initiative in creating an artist-driven network and Lozano as a DJ who had a similar vision coming from his experience with the UW student organization Society of Professional Disc Jockeys, the three were determined to root the company’s ideology through an artist’s perspective.
The group took their ideas and got the ball rolling by hosting open jams at Cafe CODA on Madison’s Eastside. MMX decided to facilitate an environment in which artists could perform live and make music together in one collaborative setting to push their artist-driven agenda.
With COVID-19 putting things on pause shortly after the open jams were beginning to gain some traction, a blog was started on the MMX website to keep things moving.
“We wanted to give back to the community in some way,” Lozano said.
Creativity and professionalism are key aspects of the blog, alongside topics of supporting local businesses and more abstract topics like stopping the ego.
Since the need for self-advertisement was still at play, their most prominent addition comes as an online store in which artists can do just that.
“One of the most crucial elements [of MMX] is the [store] platform,” Buffat said. “Just to have that interface, to have something where you can have your own store — you’re connected within the community but also you can sell right there.”
With the store, the goal is to connect artists and sell their services, such as advertising music, offering music engineering, posting live events, promoting music lessons and selling merchandise — all at a price chosen by the vendor.
MMX isn’t just reserved for the musician — it also holds a place for physical art. Artists are able to sell their art as well as any other combination of things that can get them branding their name.
The store enhances the business experience for the artist. Because it is community-driven, and with Madison in mind, MMX aims to bring artists together in support of one another, and it opens to the door for artist collaboration.
It also serves as an index of artists, where musicians and other artists can establish themselves through a network and be discovered and noticed by either other artists or music and art lovers.
MMX’s next event is co-hosted with Integrated Art Group and Cafe CODA and will begin Oct. 25 at 2345 Atwood Avenue in Madison. Titled “From Here On Out,” the event will be offered in a hybrid model with both virtual streaming and in-person attendance.
The exhibition is designed as a platform to highlight Black artists in the Madison area through music and art. More information can be found on their Facebook event.
What started as open jams at Cafe CODA manifested itself into a movement.
“I like to think of things in terms of energy,” Lozano said. “If you’re an independent artist, getting a team is very important, right? That’s more bodies — more energy. When you move as a movement, you can really do things.”
MMX is excited to keep fueling the fire for Madison’s independent artists with their new online store and will continue the push for success in the artistic journey towards excellence.