ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Modeled after other programs, new non-profit The Local Sound Collaborative has launched a new pilot program that will give five musicians or music industry workers $200 a month for a year. The non-profit says three spots are reserved for people of color.

Applications will be taken until September 1st, 2022. The payments will begin in December. One can apply here. Founder and Collaborative Director Ray Mahar, and board chair Zahyia discussed the program in studio.

Dan: Ray, why don’t you walk us through what you guys do and how it got started.

RM: So the local sound collaborative is a music nonprofit with a mission of sustaining local musicianship, as well as using music as a tool for intrinsically connected communities. So a lot of what we’re trying to do is reinvest into music as something that can really give back to society in a lot of ways.

We’re doing that through music education programs, doing it through artist grants programs, and we’re going to do it through a lot of benefit shows just in year one. So a lot coming down the stretch.

DG: And what was the inspiration to start this nonprofit?

RM: Yeah, you know, I tried to stray from it being like a pandemic baby. And a lot of sense. I don’t want to say it’s all from that, (but) I think the pandemic really heightened a lot of disparities in the music industry as a whole. But now, as we kind of move forward, we realize that that disparity has been there for so many years, and for so long. So really trying to recognize that and move forward in a way that really prioritizes music is a tool and all these ways that can better help our community.

DG: And one of those ways — we’ve seen national programs and some state private programs as well trying to do this — is guaranteed income. Zahyia, let’s go to you. Talk to us about this program. How does it work? That sort of thing?

Z: Alright, so initially, it’s going to start pretty small, we only have enough for five recipients… (For) about a year of guaranteed income. So this can pretty much it’s not going to be a ton of money. But it is going to be something that can just ease the pressure of the artists, everybody has to think about like how are we going to pay our bills. And hopefully, this can leave that space now for creatives to really reach and dive into their what they’re born to do.

DG: It’s $200 a month, I’m sure anyone and musicians will appreciate that level. What does this mean for a musician who received it? And how can people apply to be part of this program?

RM: Yeah, I mean, I think the thing we’re doing is being pretty transparent, and that we don’t expect this to be game-changing money. We expect it to be something that can subsidize musicians’ livelihoods. So we’re not trying to make people millionaires, we’re trying just to make their living enough, which is what they deserve, right. And so our hope is that if they get this program, it can help cover some of their grocery costs. It can help cover some of their bands, supplement bills, and things like that. And the why of why that’s important. It’s just like, hopefully, it can then make the entire community of Rochester and the local scene in general and what it means to be an independent artist stronger is kind of the hope.

Some additional info on the decision-making process, provided by The Local Sound Collaborative:

  • In our pilot year of this program, we will only be able to offer 5 spots for musicians and/or music industry workers. We hope to offer more spots the following year!
  • We are prioritizing folks who have financial needs, but are not asking for any income calculations or financial paperwork. This first year will operate on a trust-based system that operates on the idea that those who apply are in need of assistance. We want to offer an equitable process that eliminates as many hoops and obstacles individuals have to jump through. 
  • The selection of the 5 artists will be made in tandem with our board of directors, artist grants committee, and collaborative director. 
  • We are prioritizing a diverse group of candidates to fill the five spots available for our first cohort of artists. The first musicians to receive this grant will reflect the community we intend to serve.  (Specifically, 3 spots will be reserved for artists of color)