Seattle, WA—June 2016… Make Music Day began in France in 1982, when the Ministry of Culture created the Fête de la Musique. A kind of musical holiday, the Fête is held annually on the Summer Solstice and features free, live music virtually everywhere, from street corners and parks to rooftops and gardens. Anyone and everyone can play music or host performances. The celebration has caught on in more than 120 countries, arriving in New York City in 2007 and quickly spreading to other U.S. cities. The NAMM Foundation sponsors the celebrations in the U.S.
Seattle initiated its Make Music Day last year with performances in three venues. A year later, Seattle presented 38 artists in 27 city parks, in addition to countless performances created independently around town. Fourteen of the city venues featured Mackie® FreePlay™ or Reach™ portable professional PA systems.
Long part of the Seattle entertainment scene, Make Music Seattle Board president Ed Beeson has more than 35 years of experience booking musical acts at all levels. Beeson operates Gigs4U, which provides paid buskers in public places; provided the talent for Seattle’s Experience the City of Music, a popular program of live music at Sea-Tac International Airport; and booked the famous Bumbershoot Festival for five years. “We created a niche, communicating with hundreds of emerging artists who wanted to be part of Experience the City of Music,” Beeson explains,” and now we’re doing a similar thing for the City of Seattle with Make Music Day.”
The festival’s growth from three venues last year to 27 this year is largely thanks to a grant from the Office of Arts and Culture. “That allows us to pay musicians to perform in neighborhood parks around Seattle,” Beeson affirms. “We also needed sound systems, though, so I approached Matt Blair, the director of Client Services at Seattle music equipment dealer American Music. I’ve known Matt for years. They set us up with Mackie Reach and FreePlay portable PA systems, and we’re delighted with the results!”
“Anything that gets music more exposure, we’re all for, and we wanted to support Make Music Day,” responds Blair. “Some performance locations have no power, so Ed Beeson was especially interested in battery-powered sound systems, of which there are very few. We had done a FreePlay competition at our store, though, and I knew that the battery-powerable FreePlay would be the perfect solution.”
Mackie’s FreePlay and Reach can both be fully controlled with iOS and Android mobile devices, using the free Mackie Connect™ app. Each offers Bluetooth wireless audio input, include onboard mixers, and provide high-quality audio. Reach, with its larger channel count and more powerful amplification, is ideal for duos and trios, with ample I/O and including built-in stage monitoring. The ultra-compact FreePlay is ideal for buskers or any application that demands ultimate portability since it can be battery-powered.
American Music supplied eight FreePlays and six Reaches for Make Music Day. As Blair anticipated, FreePlay was the right choice for the venues with no power, like Denny Park and Judkins Park. “The Reach did a great job at the larger parks with AC power,” he adds. “I must say I am impressed with the Reach; it sounds great, it has the right features, and it delivered the output and the coverage we needed.”
With a successful 2016 event under their collective belt, what’s the growth plan for Make Music Day Seattle 2017? “I’ve already been talking to a lot of people in the Seattle music community,” responds Beeson, “including all of the big players, like the symphony. Next year we want to get more of those people involved. Make Music New York is our model, and they’re a great place to go for ideas.”
Beeson sums it up with a classic analogy: “For Valentine’s Day events, we would work with restaurants, flower shops, and chocolatiers; on Make Music Day, we work with Mackie and American Music. Both companies recognize that we all stand to benefit from an increased awareness of, and more people participating in, live music.”