Updated: Dec 29, 2021
by Maria Zepeda
For years musicians have found spaces that allow creation. A basement, an empty garage, a childhood bedroom….you name it, they’ve played it. And as the world continues to turn and expand it has become harder to find available spaces. Noise ordinances have fought back against the sound of drums in the wee hours of the morning, roommates put their foot down when too many band members had crowded into the living room, and the cost of living chased out the glimmering hope of rehearsal space as prices skyrocketed.
What is a musician to do?
We’ve watched our Missoula music scene shift and shape into what it is today. We saw venues close and open and close again. We saw touring acts come through Missoula and local acts dwindle. We saw the rise of the DIY underground scene. We saw house shows pop up and become a staple of Missoula. We saw the creativity and collaboration pool together for unique outdoor music experiences. We saw Missoula become a music hub of the Northwest and questioned how musicians still weren’t compensated fairly. If our musicians weren’t compensated fairly, how in the world could they afford spaces to rehearse and hone in on their craft to give audiences the music and performances they deserved?
This issue is not unique to our growing city. And unless we begin to address this as a community now the issue will only get bigger and bigger and more and more creatives will be pushed back into the basements that are unfit for living and existing in.
It takes 10,000 hours to become a master of anything. And even then the master isn’t satisfied and will work to learn more. 10,000 hours by one person. Now add up all the creatives you know and ask yourself, “what did it take for them to get where they are?”. You must know by now that they didn’t just show up on a stage polished and ready to go as is. They took time to learn their craft, hone their craft, collaborate their craft, market and promote their craft, rehearse hour after hour to prepare to step on that stage. The value of a professional musician exceeds the miniscule amount they are usually offered, and so the vicious cycle of the starving artist begins.
Right now, while the world of live performance stands still we are gifted with reflection to learn and correct the ways we have failed local music. We must do better by our local musicians who are out there working each day to bring you the music you love. And as people continue to flock and raise the prices of rent and resources we mustn’t forget what makes our city so special. The creators of the city are a part of our culture and community.
That is why MAMA dreams as big as we do. And when the day comes that we are able to create our very own space, we will create it with the musicians, artists and collaborators of Missoula in mind. A space to rehearse, learn, expand, connect and dream without limitation or fear of cost. We will create a space accessible to all that wish to better themselves, their music and their community. We hope to see you there one day soon.