PopUp Musicwas started by working musicians who found a deep connection between their work as performers and the world of start-ups and small businesses. Successful people in both worlds demonstrated superior communication skills, openness to unique perspectives, and an ability to marry disparate concepts together to form new ideas (among many other things). This connection solidified when Ben Whiting (president of PopUp Music, saxophonist) took a part-time job in the entrepreneurial world, and saw these skills being used every day by his new colleagues and every night on the bandstand with his fellow musicians.
Ben started inviting his new friends from work to his performances, and was inspired by their curiosity for what was happening on stage. How do you know when to play? What was going on during that solo? How did you guys meet each other? It was clear that there was something about the act of making music, along with the social world of musicians that resonated with people from the entrepreneurial community.
Enter Alex Lee-Clark. After a stint teaching public school, Alex had transitioned to a freelance career as a musician and educator. Ben and Alex had been playing music together in the Boston scene for a few years, and one evening they sat down to dinner to talk about the possibility of having one of Alex’s bands play at Ben’s workplace. Given the level of interest Ben and seen in his colleagues and Alex’s experience communicating music to non-musicians, an inclusive performance where the musicians and the audience interacted beyond the usual player/listener relationship seemed uniquely suited for this crowd.
After many successful events, PopUp Music is able to show the nuts and bolts of how musicians work together from the perspective of both the listener of the music and an observer of a company of musicians. It is a unique musical and intellectual experience that is accessible for people of every musical background, and asks the audience to look beyond just the music, beyond just their job, and into how humans behave and experience the world.
Boston boasts a robust musical infrastructure. It has one of the top five orchestras in the country, numerous world class music colleges that teach in both the classical tradition and on the cutting edge of the music industry, and enough players that stay in town after attending those schools to contribute to Boston’s rich and vibrant artistic culture. Yet with all of this infrastructure in place, venues for creative live music are closing, and many musicians seem all too eager to accept much less than their worth just to get the chance to play creative music in front of an audience. Couple that with the technological and cultural revolution of free and cheap streamable music, and we find many musicians with the perception that world doesn’t see much value in what they’re offering.
But as performers we see first hand the way the world can engage with music and how it’s different from the way they engage with almost anything else. Whether we’re playing a pop song that everyone knows at a wedding or an original jazz tune in a restaurant, people seem to just switch on in the presence of live music. It’s not surprising, given what neuroscience tells us about the staggering amount of activity that happens in our brains when we listen to music, or the amount of times we’ve all heard people gush about seeing someone in concert, let alone the amount of times we’ve all gushed ourselves. PopUp Music’s take on the problem is that the people making music and the people listening to music are disconnected. After performances we often hear sentiments like “I didn’t know anything like this was happening near me!” or “I like what I’m hearing, but I just can’t follow it, and I don’t always feel ‘in’ on what’s going on.” It seems clear that live music is something people want to engage with, but they haven’t found quite the right way.
Our mission is to stimulate growth in the Boston music scene by bringing live music to places people don’t normally see it, and talking about how to engage with it. We know firsthand that great live music is a transcendentally positive experience. In the moment, music makes people’s lives demonstrably better. If we can give people that experience, and then point them towards all the great live music that’s already available to them in their communities, then we’ll be creating a whole new audience of live music consumers. More consumers means more business, more business means more venues, more venues means more competition for the best musical experience. Similarly, we’re hoping to inspire more musicians to engage their own entrepreneurial spirit. At all of PopUp Music’s events, we’ve paid our musicians a quality wage for their work, held an attentive audience, and never made artistic sacrifices to “dumb down” our performance for the sake of the crowd. It is possible to build a community that supports musicians making expressive music, and we hope to be a spark for how that community comes into being.
Take risks. Break boundaries. Have a dance party.
Become a better listener. Have a great time in the process.
Instead of bringing your team to a show, bring the show to your team.
Dan Meade The Manic American www.manicamerican.com
Mark Nakib www.marknakib.com
Apple® and GarageBand® are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.
PopUp Music is an independent organization and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc.
Phone: (617) 903-0731