About Make Music New York

What is Make Music New York?

Now in its thirteenth year, Make Music New York, dubbed “One of the best things that have happened to New York musical life in the past decade” (Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise) is a unique festival of free concerts in public spaces throughout the five boroughs of New York City. All of the performances take place annually on June 21st, the first day of summer and longest day of the year. The NYC music celebrations take place simultaneously with similar festivities in over eighty US cities and more than 800 cities around the world — a global celebration of music making.

The next Make Music New York takes place on Friday, June 21, 2019.

Completely different from a typical music festival, Make Music New York is open to anyone who wants to take part. From ten in the morning to ten at night, every kind of musician — young and old, amateur and professional, of every musical persuasion — pours onto streets, sidewalks, parks and plazas to share their music with friends, neighbors, and strangers. Thousands of amateur musicians take the opportunity to play in public spaces, often for the biggest crowds of their lives. Professional musicians perform for new audiences, who come out from under their headphones to hear unfamiliar groups risk-free. And everyone is invited to sing along and enjoy the first day of summer in a spirit of celebration.

Among the over 1,000 concerts each year, Make Music New York includes a number of special and signature projects: “Mass Appeal Concerts,” where hundreds of musicians band together to perform massive pieces written for a specific type of instrument; “Punk Island”; “Porch Stomp”; “Street Studios,” and many more.

Some 5,000 musicians performed in 2018. Along with concerts by individual artists, Make Music New York partnered with dozens of fellow NYC presenters and cultural institutions — including Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governors Island, Joe’s Pub, Madison Square Park, Marcus Garvey Park, National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Randall’s Island, Times Square Alliance and many more.

Where did the idea come from?

Make Music New York is inspired by France’s “Fête de la Musique,” a national musical holiday inaugurated in 1982. Ever since, the festival has become an international phenomenon, celebrated on the same day in more than 750 cities in 120 countries, including Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, Australia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, and Japan.

In North America, over eighty June 21st celebrations now include Make Music BostonMake Music ChicagoMake Music Los Angeles, Make Music Madison (WI), and many others listed on the Make Music Day website.

Who can participate?

Anyone and everyone, in every borough of the city. Amateurs, part-time professionals, and established artists of all ages, backgrounds and music tastes are all welcome.

Is this an annual event?

Yes, Make Music New York takes place every June 21st, regardless of the day of the week.

Who puts this all together?

Make Music New York, Inc., is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization. Dozens of volunteers work throughout the city to help recruit musicians and venues, manage special projects, and promote the concerts. If you’re interested in joining us, see below!

How can I get involved as a volunteer?

Make Music New York is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization.

Hundreds of volunteers have come together over the last thirteen years to produce Make Music New York — the largest free, one-day musical event in NYC. Some volunteers inspire and coordinate dozens of concerts in their neighborhood; some work on special projects such as Mass Appeal and Punk Island; others join our street team efforts to promote the concerts. If you are interested in volunteering, please email info@makemusicny.org.

What else does Make Music New York, Inc. do?

In 2011, Make Music New York launched a complimentary winter solstice festival called Make Music Winter, with over a dozen participatory musical parades and processions that take place on December 21st, the winter solstice. The next Make Music Winter will take place on Saturday, December 21, 2019.

Where can I donate to Make Music New York?

Make Music New York is NYC’s music festival for the people and by the people and we need your support to keep thriving. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, all contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Please donate generously: click here.

I want to perform in Make Music New York. What do I do?

Please join the fun! If you are a musician or vocalist, just click here to register as a “Performer.”  Create your unique profile, including music samples and social media tags to make it easy for interested host venues to learn all about you and your music. Then begin your search to connect with hundreds of participating venues, including parks, community gardens, plazas, libraries, shopfronts and other outdoor hot spots. Creating your profile is free, fun and easy. Within minutes, you will have access to the Make Music New York database to help you find your perfect match. Also, be sure to sign up to receive Make Music New York e-newsletters on our website homepage to receive the very latest updates and other important information.

While you are making your plans, remember that Make Music New York is not a traditional festival, and most locations are not traditional music venues. Not every location will be able to provide power, and in most situations you — the artist — will be responsible for bringing your own equipment (such as amps, mics, and whatever else you need in addition to your instrument). We also welcome and encourage artists to create their own performance locations — just keep reading below…

I want to host a Make Music New York concert. What do I do?

Absolutely! You are welcome to create multiple Venue profiles if you would like to host concerts in more than one location. And, if you play in more than one ensemble, or are curating a performance with multiple bands, you can create profiles for each one. Just be certain to create a separate profile for each location and each artist, so that each one can be officially matched in our database and included in our marketing and promotional campaigns.  Make Music New York only thrives with the active participation of our generous host venues. If you have an outdoor location that you want to activate with live music (such as the sidewalk outside of your building), just click here and sign up as a “Venue“.  Create your profile to make it easy for interested performers to learn about your outdoor performance space and your preferences: the type of music you are looking to host, the hours you are looking to activate, and any services (such as electricity or sound equipment, if applicable) you might be able to provide. Then begin your search to connect with thousands of musicians representing every conceivable genre and style of music!

Can I register multiple locations or artists to participate in Make Music New York?

Absolutely! You are welcome to create multiple Venue profiles if you would like to host concerts in more than one location. And, if you play in more than one ensemble, or are curating a performance with multiple bands, you can create profiles for each one. Just be certain to create a separate profile for each location and each artist, so that each one can be officially matched in our database and included in our marketing and promotional campaigns.

We also welcome and encourage host venues to register their own artists — just read the section above!

Where can musicians play?

In a variety of outdoor spaces.

Sidewalks: Most musicians perform on NYC’s 12,000 miles of sidewalks. Make Music New York will secure the necessary permits from the City so that musicians don’t have to deal with the paperwork or pay the fees. If you have a rock band, and you want to set up outside your building and play for your neighbors, we can help make that happen. If you want to perform Bach’s cello suites outside your friend’s convenience store, you can do that, too. Almost anything is possible. To use a sidewalk, you must leave a 5-foot wide path for passers-by, between your concert and the curb. Just be sure to choose a space that gives you the room you need.

Parks: Make Music New York secures permits for nearly 100 NYC park locations in all five boroughs for the June 21st concerts. These locations are made available on our website and assigned on a first-come-first-served basis. If you don’t see the park you’re looking for, it is likely already booked, unavailable to us, or the permit is still pending. Bear in mind that concerts in parks can run a maximum of 4 hours and that some parks do not permit amplified sound (as indicate in the venue profile).

Community 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 them available as venues on the matchmaking website.

Streets: Dozens of community organizations close off streets around the city for block party concerts. If your group wishes to produce a concert in the street this coming June, you must file an application with your local community board by April 15, 2019. For more details, download our guide, “How To Apply For a Make Music New York Block Party” (pdf). Before submitting an application, please email us at info@makemusicny.org, and briefly describe your plans, so that we can coordinate your event with others in the neighborhood.

Other Spaces: If you want to use some other kind of outdoor location — such as a cemetery, bridge, subway platform, pier, or ferry — send an email to info@makemusicny.org with a detailed description of what you want to do, and who you have already spoken to at the location. We make no promises, but we’ll see what we can do.

What happens if I want to play at a location that is not listed?

That’s great! We encourage musicians to create their own performance locations, especially when they have an existing relationship with the space. Perhaps you’d like to perform on your stoop, in front of your office building, or outside the bar where you have a regular gig. In any case, make sure it’s OK with the location first, then follow the directions above outlined in the FAQ “I want to host a Make Music New York concert. What do I do?”

What happens if I want to host my friend’s band, but they aren’t listed on the site?

That’s great too! First, register the details of your venue. Then either ask your friend to sign up their band, or do it for them — log in, click on the “Performer” tab, and fill in their information. Finally, match the artist and venue profiles together at the time of your choosing. We’ll take care of the rest.

What happens if it rains?

Due to the many logistics of permitting and marketing, Make Music New York does not schedule a Rain Day. If it does rain on June 21st, we encourage all performers and venues to persevere and adapt as needed. Perhaps you can switch around performance times to find a window when the weather improves. Or concerts planned to take place on a sidewalk can be moved under an awning or inside a building lobby or shop. If you do have to perform indoors, just do what you can to open a door or window to fill the streets with audible music! Host venues are encouraged to include their plans in the event of rain when they create their profiles. (But it won’t rain!)

Will musicians be paid to perform?

Make Music New York does not pay musicians — nor do musicians pay us. The ethos of the festival is the celebrate the amazing talents of NYC musicians and to activate NYC’s shared outdoor spaces. That said, performers and venues are welcome to make any financial arrangements they wish between themselves, as long as the concerts are outdoors, free and open to the public to enjoy.

If Make Music New York doesn’t pay musicians, what does it do?

Make Music New York takes care of all the “backstage” logistics so that musicians can focus on their performance without worry and enjoy the unique experience of playing outdoors for their fellow New Yorkers.  We pay and secure all requisite permits required by the City of New York, manage the matchmaking database, assist to coordinate artists and locations in neighborhoods citywide, and market and publicize the day.

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

Make Music New York is not a typical music festival. There are some high-profile venues and renowned artists do occasionally join in the fun, but the true spirit of Make Music New York is that of a holiday: people getting together in their own neighborhoods, creating their own musical celebrations in a do-it-yourself fashion.

Performers and host venues collaborate to produce the concerts, find electricity, and provide whatever equipment is needed.

Make Music New York provides the framework and helps facilitate the creation of concerts — the rest is up to you! Artists and locations are responsible for producing their own concerts. This includes finding electricity, and providing whatever equipment is needed.

Unlike most music festivals:

  • New York City itself is your stage; we do not construct or provide staging. Performances generally take place at the same level as the audience, keeping them intimate and interactive affairs.
  • You have complete artistic control. It’s your concert. If you want to perform with a different guitarist than previously announced, or take an extended 20 minute jazz bass solo, you don’t have to ask our permission!
  • Anyone and everyone can take part. From professionals to amateurs, from the mainstream to the unfashionably bizarre — if you can find a workable spot for your performance, you can be part of Make Music New York!

How late in the evening can my performance go?

In NYC, no loud or amplified sound is allowed after 10pm. Many areas, such as public parks, will have an earlier curfew of 8pm or 9pm. Also, concerts in parks are limited to a maximum of 4 hours and some require acoustic-only concert.

If your music is unamplified (no PA or amps), musicians can perform outside until 10pm. If it is amplified, it depends on your performance location. As a general rule, amplified performances can go until 9pm. Some neighborhoods cut off sound permits at 8pm; others can go until 10pm; and in some areas, it depends on exactly where the concert will be. Play close attention to the time slots and curfews that are included on the venue profile, and plan accordingly.

NYC parks are limited to a maxmimum of 4 hours and some require acoustic-only concert; other spaces can go all day.

Within these guidelines as set by the City of New York, your performance can go as long as you want.

Can I really perform as long as I want? What if I want to perform Wagner’s entire Ring Cycle?

Better get an early start. And find a venue that doesn’t want to schedule more than one act.

How can I close my street for a block party concert?

Dozens of community organizations close off streets around the city for block party concerts. If your group wishes to produce a concert in the street, you must file an application with your local community board by April 15th. For more details, download our guide, “How To Apply For a Make Music New York Block Party” (pdf). Before submitting an application, please email us at info@makemusicny.org and briefly describe your plans, so that we can coordinate your event with others in the area.

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

Join one of our “Mass Appeal” concerts! We are organizing hundreds of musicians to band together to perform massive pieces written for a single type of instrument, from guitars to harmonicas to mandolins. Each concert works differently, depending on the genre, the instrument and the location. To learn more about Mass Appeal concerts taking place on June 21, 2019, be sure to sign up to receive the Make Music New York newsletter from the homepage of our website.

How do I curate a show with multiple artists? Or, what if I want to play on the same show as my friends?

Each artist should create their own unique Performer profile, as outlined above in the FAQ section “I want to perform in Make Music New York. What do I do?” This is important, because we need individual artist information to properly market your concert! Then, each of the musicians can individually match themselves to the same host venue location in different time slots. If the entire program has a particular theme or title, include that in the venue’s description box.

What will MMNY do to help promote my concert?

We list all concerts on the Make Music New York website (with descriptions and artist websites) and on the downloadable Make Music New York app.  Many media partners also help to spread the word. And we pitch stories about concerts to the media to secure as much attention as possible (peruse the many features on our press page). We also provide customized PDF fliers for each artist and location to download and display from your venue once your performance has been confirmed.

At the same time, we count on musicians and venues to promote their own shows in any and all ways that make sense — sending out email blasts, putting notices on websites, calling up all of their friends, etc. Everyone who signs up to participate on our matchmaking website are given the chance to describe what they will do for promotion.

What if I sign up now to perform, and have to back out later?

As a performer, once your event is confirmed by your chosen host venue and by Make Music New York, we will reserve your performance slot and pay for your permits, so we are counting on you to perform! If you do need to cancel, we ask that you find another performer to take your spot. Please also let your host venue – and us – know about all program changes ASAP.

Can Make Music New York performers sell CDs, or ask for donations?

Musicians are not premitted to solicit donations, nor can Make Music New York provide the permits needed to allow vending at your concert. On the other hand, musicians are encouraged to pass out fliers to promote their upcoming shows and recordings, ask listeners to sign their mailing list and generally promote themselves and make new fans.

Can I charge admission for a Make Music New York concert?

All Make Music New York concerts are free, outdoors, and open to the public.

No.

Can my concert be “invitation only”?

No.

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

No.

Can I have my event indoors?

Only in the event of inclement weather, as outlined above in the FAQ section “What happens if it rains?”

Can I perform outside the five boroughs for MMNY?

As our name suggests, Make Music New York makes music in NYC! We are empowered to coordinate permits and promotions to cover concerts taking place only in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. However, there are Make Music Day concerts that take place all over the world on June 21st, and you are welcome to perform wherever you wish. Just be aware of whatever regulations and permit issues apply outside NYC.

I’d like to take full advantage of Make Music New York and perform all over town!

Scheduling more than one performance is welcomed and encouraged. Just be sure to allow reasonable time for travel and set-up if you plan to perform more than once.

What is Make Music Winter?

Make Music Winter, first launched in 2011, is a free, outdoor musical celebration held each winter solstice every December 21st that turns audiences into music makers. Inspired by Phil Kline’s annual Unsilent Night – the boombox parade that has become an international tradition – Make Music Winter transforms New York’s cityscape with over a dozen participatory musical parades and processions representing genres ranging from Early Music to jazz to – you name it.

How can I join one of the parades?

Each parade is different. For some, you need to bring a particular instrument, or download sheet music or an iPhone app in advance; for others, you can just show up. All of them feature some way to musically participate; check out the description of each event before you go.

How can I book my band for Make Music Winter?

Unlike the Make Music New York’s annual June 21st festival, Make Music Winter is a series of mobile, participatory events. If you have an ensemble that can play while walking in the cold, and your music fits into one of the parade structures, get in touch with the relevant parade organizer and let them know what you have in mind. On the other hand, if you need to plug in instruments or stay in one place, you’ll probably need to wait until June.

I have a great idea for a new winter parade I’d like to work on; what should I do?

Email us your idea to info@makemusicny.org

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