Make Music


What is Make Music Madison?

  • Performed by Anyone, Enjoyed by Everyone.
  • Make Music Madison is part of Make Music Day – The Global Music Celebration happening 1,000+ international cities. Millions of musicians will participate and hundreds of millions will experience this special day.
  • A way for all Madisonians to celebrate the summer solstice, enjoying the longest day of the year, while sampling a buffet of musical merriment.
  • A DIY city-wide celebration when almost any way to make music can and will happen.
  • Make Music Madison is open to music makers of all ages, skill levels, and musical persuasions.

When and where will Make Music Madison take place?

Make Music Madison will take place on the summer solstice, Monday, June 21, 2021.

Performances can be scheduled from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM in spaces open for public participation throughout Madison. Sidewalks, parks, and more may become impromptu musical stages, dance floors, and social meeting points.

What are the COVID safety measures?

All venues and participants must follow the most up-to-date COVID Orders from Public Health Madison & Dane County available here.

How do I sign up to participate?

Visit our Participate page for updates on registration. There are several ways to sign up:

  1. USE OUR ONLINE MATCHMAKING SYSTEM – Create a profile, include as much info as you can for prospective matches (links to videos, audio and social media help!), browse musicians or venues and start sending out your booking requests. Schedule as many shows as you like. Be sure to confirm your shows by midnight on Tuesday, June 1st. Communicate with your matches to sort out any questions.
  2. ALREADY HAVE MUSICIANS IN MIND? – Use the online matchmaking and scheduling platform to post all the details of your line-up!
  3. PLAY THE DAY OF THE EVENT – If you missed getting into the schedule, you can still play!  Pick a sidewalk or a spot in a park and make some music.  If you’re out in front of an establishment, check in with them.  The city is a stage on Make Music Day!

Where may I perform?    

Performances will take place in a variety of outdoor spaces. If you have a rock band, and you want to set up outside your building and play for your neighbors, do it! If you want to perform Bach’s cello suites outside your friend’s convenience store, you can do that, too. Almost anything is possible.

Sidewalks: Many musicians will perform on the sidewalks of Madison. Make Music Madison organizers will secure the necessary permits from the City, so that musicians don’t have to deal with the paperwork or pay fees.

Parks: Make Music Madison has reserved some prime Madison park locations and shelters for June 21st concerts. Those locations are listed as “on hold” in our matchmaking system, and can be reserved as a venue on a first-come, first-served basis by e-mailing us. You may register for all other parks yourself, and as with other public spaces, we will secure the necessary permits for you. See more details on parks below.

Community centers, gardens and plazas: Some public spaces are privately controlled by community groups, management companies, or individuals. These can be fantastic performance locations – quiet, yet accessible. People who control these spaces will make many of them available on our website. If a perfect site isn’t listed, check with the owners to see if they’re interested!

Private spaces: Restaurants, businesses, community organizations and homeowners may wish to offer their locale as a venue. We welcome all comers.

Venue Checklist. Can I host live music?

There are a few guidelines for hosts. Hosting is DIY and can be as simple as providing space on your sidewalk or as complex as renting a stage with sound tech. How you would like to host is up to you. Each host determines the location, length of time, and what they are able to provide.

  1. Performance spaces must be outdoors and within the city of Madison.  You can bring the show inside if it rains.
  2. The space needs to be free and accessible to the public.
  3. The City of Madison requires that all venues maintain a 6′ clearance on all city sidewalks for pedestrian passage.
  4. All participants must follow the most up-to-date Covid orders from Public Health Madison & Dane County.

Who can perform?

Make Music Madison is Performed by Anyone, Enjoyed by Everyone – all over Madison. Students, amateurs, part-time professionals, and established artists are all welcome. There is no audition process to be included in the musical merriment and Make Music Madison is open to all ages, skill levels, and persuasions of music makers. All you you need to do is sign up, make your match with a venue, show up, and perform! Even non-musicians are invited to participate by dancing, singing along with a crowd, or even helping to organize a flash mob.

How long will each performance last?  

You have complete artistic control. It’s your concert. If you want to take an extended 20-minute bass solo, you don’t have to ask our permission!  In other cities we’ve seen performances as short as a single song and as long as 18 hours. Artists and venues must agree to the length of your performance during the matchmaking process. Then, when you perform you must stick to the set length you agreed to so that the city-wide published performance schedule stays on track.

If you just want to sing two songs, or play one tune, that’s fine. You just need to find a venue that agrees to your 10-minute set, or you can create your own venue. Madison Public Libraries will be hosting several venues again in 2020, and some of these locales could be a good fit for short set. There may be other open mic–style venues that would also be suitable for your participation.

Will I be paid to perform? Should I pay our musician guests?

Make Music Madison is a citywide celebration of summer and part of an international movement. As part of this international celebration, Make Music Madison agrees to offer all performances for free to the public. As is the case with other cities around the world, our contribution is setting up the framework for performances by securing the permits, coordinating the concerts, and publicizing the event city-wide with media stories, concert listings with our media partners, an interactive website, and a volunteer street-team.

Participation at any level, as a musician, host, or spectator is voluntary. While most performers volunteer their time and talents, venue hosts can indeed opt to pay musicians to perform and would include that information in their venue profile. Additionally, some venues welcome their musical guests by providing food and beverage. We ask venues to do what they can to make your musicians feel welcomed and appreciated!

Make Music Madison will provide musicians and venues with busking buckets, and spectators are encouraged to make donations.

May performers take full advantage of Make Music Madison and perform all over town?

Yes! Scheduling more than one performance is fine. If you choose to perform at more than one site, you must fill out a separate page in the matchmaking software for each performance you’d like to book. Please allow reasonable time for travel and set-up if you plan to perform more than once.

Are dancers included in the Make Music Madison fun?

Yes, with some caveats. We are committed to live musical performance, so ballet troupes will need to leave the recorded music at home and bring along the orchestra (or rock band, or solo cello). Also, there is a space consideration. With an orchestra and fifteen dancers, you’ll need a space large enough to accommodate everyone plus your audience.

What if a band signs up now, and has to back out later?

Once your event is confirmed by your chosen location, and by the Make Music organizers, we will block off your spot and secure your permits. We are counting on you to perform! If you do need to cancel, it is your responsibility to find another performer to take your spot. Please let the location – and us – know about all program changes ASAP, so that Make Music Madison and the venue can help find a replacement.

What if I play an instrument, but don’t have my own band?

Join or organize a “Mass Appeal” event! The big idea is that scores of musicians who have never performed together before can band together to perform massive pieces. Think, a platoon of accordions playing the “Beer Barrel Polka”, barbershop quartets singing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”. You get the idea! Each performance works differently, depending on the genre, the instrument, and the location. We’ll be releasing more info on “Mass Appeal” soon.

I am part of a large drumming circle, and we’d like to perform at the solstice sunrise.

Noise ordinances and common sense are not suspended for Make Music Madison. Basically 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM are acceptable times for higher decibel sound, and acceptable locations are non-residential areas where people will not be disturbed in their homes. There can be some exceptions – in past years there have been a few cases of neighborhoods hosting venues with later performances, planned in cooperation with surrounding homeowners.

Okay – where might I make loud music?

Some of Madison’s larger parks might work out. To get an idea of some of the possibilities, take a look at Madison’s park system or, contact us to noodle around some ideas.

How do we sign up to perform in parks?

Good question – long answer…

Many city parks, park shelters and downtown performance spaces will be made available for Make Music Madison performances. Check out a complete list Madison parks, with info on the amenities each park offers.

When you request a park space you are taking on responsibility in the sign up process as both artist and venue. To request a park space you may need to fill out both a venue and an artist request form, and then confirm your performance and venue. Please use the park names and street addresses as listed at the park website (linked above) to complete the venue form.

Won’t lots of people sign up for parks? If twenty different groups sign up for Warner Park, how do we know who has first dibs?

Many of our city parks are large enough to accommodate multiple simultaneous performances, so be as specific as possible in your description as to the location in the park where you intend to perform, and what park amenities you wish to use. Even after you confirm your park venue and performance, you must wait for final confirmation from Make Music Madison planners to make sure there are no conflicting or overlapping requests. Only then is your park venue truly confirmed.

I’d like to reserve one of the larger shelters with a reservation fee. Is there a special Make Music Madison reservation fee?  

Several of the larger park shelters and performance spaces that normally require a reservation fee will be offered for free, and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Just contact us to find out if a shelter you’d like to request is available, and we’ll get you an answer right away. Note also that preference for these larger sheltered spaces will be given to those who indicate that they agree to perform rain or shine (except in the case of severe weather).

Who will provide a stage / tuned grand piano / etc for my concert?

Make Music Madison is not a typical music festival. It is a DIY opportunity for people to be creative about putting together their own musical events. Our organizers set up the framework for concerts — the rest is up to you! Artists and locations collaborate to produce the events, provide electricity, if needed, and provide any necessary equipment.

Will there be a main stage?

There will be no main stage. Madison itself is your stage. This is not an event focused around built stages, so performances generally take place at the same level as the audience. Your stage could be a front porch, a restaurant patio, a park bench, or any other outdoor space you can imagine. Do you have somewhere you’d love to play? Convince that location to register as a venue!

What happens if it rains?

If it does rain, concerts planned for sidewalks may take place inside a building lobby or storefront. In this case, we simply ask that a door or window be opened so that the music is audible from the street. Park shelters are also an excellent choice for rain or shine locations. During the sign-up process, locations listed on the website will indicate what they can do in case of rain. There is no rain date. This event happens in over 700 communities around the world on the summer solstice, June 21, and so will ours.

Can I charge admission for a Make Music Madison concert?

No. All Make Music Madison concerts are free, outdoors, and open to the public.

Can I block off a street?

Our city permit DOES NOT cover block parties or parade routes that take place in city streets. To host a block party, you’ll need to make those arrangements on your own.

Can my concert be “invitation only”?

No. All Make Music Madison performances are free and open to the public.

Can I perform outside the city limits of Madison?

Not officially. Our permits and logistics only cover Madison. You may perform wherever you wish, but be aware of whatever regulations and permit issues apply outside Madison.

Can I create a Make Music Madison event that does not include any live music?

No. This is a live music event. A DJ who merely plays prerecorded music would not be included, but a DJ who is using prerecorded music as a part of creating a new unique sound is welcome to join us.

Can I have my event indoors?

Only if it rains.

Who organizes this event?

Launched in 2013, Make Music Madison, Inc, a volunteer-lead organization, joins an informal confederation of about 700 cities worldwide in creating opportunities for all stripes of music makers to take to the streets to celebrate the summer solstice. Volunteer organizers in Madison will work throughout the city to help recruit musicians and venues, handle permits, and promote the concerts. If you’re interested in joining us, see the Participate page. We can use your help.

How can I get involved as a volunteer?

There are lots of ways to volunteer. Contact us and we’ll run the options by you.

Can I donate to Make Music Madison?

We’re glad you asked! Contributions can be made online and are 100% tax-deductible. If you are interested in becoming a Make Music Madison Sponsor, please email us.

Using Matchmaking Software and Making Matches

How do I sign up to perform / host a concert?

Musicians and venues will use our registration and matchmaking tool, which is hosted on this site, in order to register and make concert arrangements with each other. Registration for Make Music Madison will open for all musicians and venues on April 10th, 2021.

If you encounter problems, please contact us and we’ll work through the problem together.

On the registration page I see that Make Music Madison runs from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Wow, that is a long event!

It’s likely that the number of events per hour will increase as the day goes along, particularly falling on a week day this year. This just give you the option of playing/hosting your event whenever works best for you and your audience.

The matchmaking software asks for my facebook and website addresses. I don’t have facebook or a website. Does this mean I can’t register?

Facebook or a website is not required. We ask for the links to allow potential venues and performers to learn more about each other before committing to the match. After matchmaking is complete, our website will allow prospective audiences to sample your work and allow you to promote yourself. If you incorrectly enter information in these boxes, you won’t be allowed to continue. Information entered should be accurate, or the box should be left blank.

I’m a venue. Why is there a check box that says “Accepting requests from artists to perform here?”  I wouldn’t be signing up if I weren’t accepting performers.

When your venue is full, you will un-check this box. We’ll see your venue, and performance schedule, and see that it is full.

Why am I restricted to three choices for the type of music I perform or that my venue will accept?

This arbitrary limit is to make finding the right match easier. Use the “Other” choice and the description box to override this limitation. Then, you can tell us about your music styling in the description box. If you represent a venue open to all types of music- just say so in your description.

I see there is a box asking me how I will promote my performance and I have no idea how to promote my performance. Do I need to promote my performance or venue to participate?

Everyone who signs up on our matchmaking website should describe what they will do for promotion. We are counting on musicians and locations to promote their own shows, in all the ways that they normally would — sending out email blasts, putting notices on websites, texting all of their friends, etc. Maybe for you, promotion means telling your best friend and your Aunt Mary about your performance. That’s fine. If you DO know a lot about music promotion, this is a great opportunity to volunteer.

What will Make Music Madison do to help promote my concert?

We will list all concerts on the Make Music Madison website (with descriptions and links to artist websites, where available), and we’ll pitch stories about noteworthy concerts to the press. Make Music Madison neighborhood organizers also will promote the performances in their area with fliers, posters, etc.

I’ve signed up as an artist or a venue and I’m ready to make a match. Can you break down the approval process in the software for me?

You can see all of the details on any artist or performer who fits your search criteria from either the browse or account pages. Use the box with the drop down menus labeled “venue type”, “neighborhood” and “electricity” to narrow your choices. Use the small triangle to the left of the name of the artist or venue to see all of the details on that option. You can see all available venues and performers by selecting the browse feature, but the matchmaking actually happens on your account page.

I’ve looked at all of my options and chosen some possible venues or musicians. What happens now?

After you make a choice, that choice will receive an email to notify them. Then both sides need to confirm, modify or decline the opportunity. If you wish to modify, you should contact the other party to resolve the problem. When you agree on a match it will be recorded, and then Make Music Madison will then examine and send final approval to both parties. Before approval by artist, venue and the webmaster, your desired match will appear on your “Account” page under “My Performances”; note that until all three parties have approved, the match is “pending confirmation”. After approval by artist, venue, and Make Music Madison, the match will be recorded at “Performances”.

We completed our matchmaking last week, but our completed match still says “Pending Confirmation”. What gives?  

Make Music Madison must confirm each performance before it is final. In most cases Make Music Madison will confirm your performance and venue match within two weeks. To allow for an ample assortment of musicians to fill out our matchmaking inventory, we will not begin confirming most matches before April 1st. If your venue and performer are certain you have a firm commitment, there is no need to worry, you are going steady and we will not force a break up.

Do I need to check in with my “Account” page to see if there are any pending matches?

No worries. When someone requests a match, you will be emailed a notification to login and check the match.

Let’s say I signed up two weeks ago as either a venue or a performer and no one has picked my venue/performance. When should I start to worry?

It may take time to make a match. Keep in mind that the registration will be open until May 6, so new musicians and venues will be appearing over the entire time period. If you don’t see what you want today, come back at another time. Or, be creative in your matchmaking. Venues may contact musicians not already registered in the matchmaking software to ask them to sign up. Likewise, performers may contact venues where they’d like to perform and ask them to sign up as venues. Also consider that venues can be almost any public place in Madison where people can gather without impeding traffic. The playground down the street, the pet store’s parking lot, the plaza outside your office building could all be venues.

My performance was denied. Why?

Some reasons for a denial might be because the venue’s time slots all have been filled, or the venue cannot accommodate your type of music or number of performers. Don’t despair; try to find another match.

A venue or performer wants to modify my request for a match. What is required of me now? 

The modify request in our matchmaking software is there to set up a performance schedule that works for both the venue and performer. If a request needs to be modified in some way other than time, you will need to contact the other party to work through details of the modification.

It’s May 27th and there is still no match. Should I be heartbroken?

Make Music Madison wants to make sure everyone who wants to perform can perform. After May 25th, registration will close, but participants will have another week to match. The deadline to confirm everyon’e shows is midnight on Tuesday, June 1st. We will contact musicians and venues that haven’t been able to create a match through the software and will propose some creative options for your inclusion in the Make Music Madison merriment. We are in the happiness business and don’t want you to be disappointed or left out.