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Maximum Ames Music Festival joins national group to support small venues

Ronna Faaborg
Ames Tribune
Pink Neighbor performs at London Underground during the opening night of the 2018 Maximum Ames Music Festival.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that, among other things, has temporarily silenced some independent music venues, a local music promoter has joined forces with a national organization to help these small performance spaces.

Maximum Ames Music Festival, which holds a four-day music fest in downtown Ames each fall, has joined the National Independent Venue Association.

“Maximum Ames Music Festival has officially joined the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) in an effort to help small music venues and performance spaces survive the economic fallout from the pandemic,” Fred Love, co-producer of MAMF, said in a news release this month.

Maximum Ames Music Festival logo

Nearly 2,000 venues and promoters across the country have already joined NIVA, which formed in mid-April in response to the pandemic’s impact on independent music venues.

“Independent venues and promoters play a vital role in their communities, influencing travel and tourism," NIVA wrote in an April 17 statement. "They are a part of the fabric, foundation and pride of cities and towns across America."

The economic impact of these music venues closing is significant. Pollstar, a music industry trade publication, this spring forecasted a ticket-sale loss of nearly $9 billion if the venues remain closed through the end of the year, not including the lost food and beverage revenue.

“According to a 2016 IBISWorld study, the live music industry produced $23.5 billion in annual revenue,” the NIVA statement continued. “With the complete and sudden shutdown, all venues and their communities have been dealt a devastating blow with revenues totally halted, but the overhead has not.”

NIVA has created a #SaveOurStages campaign as it pushes Congress to fund emergency relief for independent music venues. NIVA is also accepting donations to help with its operating budget.

NIVA is also providing resources and education to its member venues, which Love calls “live music ecosystems, which play vital roles in each member state’s economy.”

This fall would have marked MAMF’s 10th anniversary of bringing live music to downtown Ames. Last year, the music festival featured more than 60 acts performing at nine venues over the course of four days. With affordable ticket prices — an all-festival pass was $20, and many individual concerts were free — the festival has brought thousands of people to downtown Ames.

Maximum Ames Music Festival organizers canceled the 2020 event due to the pandemic.

“The Maximum Ames Music Festival has partnered with local venues and clubs for years to produce festivals and concerts,” Love said in a news release. “We can’t imagine our festival without independent music venues. We’re proud to join the National Independent Venue Association and stand ready to do whatever we can to save our stages, support publicly-owned venues and keep the music alive in Iowa and beyond.”

In June, NIVA released a survey of 2,000 independent venue owners, promoters and bookers that showed 90% feared they would have to close permanently in the coming months without targeted federal funding. 

Aside from supporting employees and live-music artists, the industry also helps restaurants, hotels and retail stores, Love said. For each dollar generated in ticket sales, those other entities realize about $12 in revenue.