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Music in Madison

Music is a key social activity that allows our City to continue building an inclusive, equitable and diverse community. All Madisonians have the right to freedom of artistic expression and participation through music. The City of Madison aims to build a reputation as a music and entertainment hub that offers an enjoyable and welcoming environment for our residents and guests of all ages, thereby providing a positive social, cultural, and economic impact for our community.

Music tourism generates substantial economic and cultural benefit to our City. The Madison Arts Commission helps sustain and enrich the live music economy through both its annual grant program, and through funding made possible by the Room Tax Commission.

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Greater Madison Music City (GMMC)

GMMC is a collaborative impact project that aims to strengthen Madison’s music ecosystem through an equity and inclusion approach. The global music consultant Sound Diplomacy, in collaboration with GMMC, has recently released the Music Recovery Framework, which provides a roadmap to achieve economic recovery, music resilience, and inclusivity. You can see the full report here

GMMC continues to work with four subgroups to strategize around issues related to: Tourism and Music Hub Development, Equity and Artist Relationships, Partnerships and Business Connections, and Economic Impact. Participants represent organizations such as arts centers, performance spaces, businesses, and community organizations. Of the 37 participants, the following sectors are represented: 11 nonprofit, 12 private sector, 6 government, and 8 independent artists.

GMMC is funded by the City of Madison Room Tax Commission on an annual basis, with additional funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Wisconsin.

For more information, visit Greater Madison Music City

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Outdoor Music Guide

The City created this guide to help musicians and music organizers understand the different types of permits that a person or group of individuals can apply for to organize, perform and/or enjoy live music outdoors.

For general questions about this guide, please contact Angela Puerta in the City of Madison Planning Division at

Outdoor Music Guide

Are you a performer who would like to showcase your talent in Downtown Madison?  Apply for the Downtown Performance Space Permit.  For more information visit the Parks Division website.

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Make Music Madison

Make Music Madison is a free, one-day, city-wide, distributed music festival held annually on the Summer Solstice (June 21). The goal of the event is to encourage people of all ages, experience levels, and musical persuasions to celebrate the solstice with live music. "Music" is whatever live sound an individual or group wishes to produce, and whatever the hosting space accepts. The festival is inclusionary in terms of genres, ethnicities, styles of music, skill levels of musicians, and in the use of public and private spaces throughout our community. Madison started participating in this global celebration of music on Friday, June 21, 2013. There now are over 1000 communities around the world celebrating the Summer Solstice with a music as part of #makemusicday.

Musicians of all ages, creeds, and musical persuasions-from hip hop to opera, Latin jazz to punk rock perform in public places including sidewalks, plazas, patios, bus transfer points, parks and gardens. Make Music Madison is “performed by anyone, enjoyed by everyone” and brings our community together to experience the power and joy of live music.

For more information and to sign up for announcements, visit Make Music Madison.

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Music Education

The Madison Arts Commission reserves about a quarter of its annual arts grants funding to provide curricular and co-curricular arts and music education to Madison youth. In addition, we are a partner in the collective impact initiative, Any Given Child Madison to increase access to music and arts education throughout the Madison Metropolitan School District.

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Task Force on Equity in Music and Entertainment (TFEME)

The purpose of the Task Force on Equity in Music & Entertainment (TFEME) was to make recommendations to the Mayor and the Common Council that would improve upon Madison’s reputation as a music and entertainment hub that offers a welcoming environment for all of residents and visitors. The TFEME was the result of nine years of work from the Hip-Hop community in Madison and other organizations that convened various government and private business entities to discuss plans to make our city’s music and entertainment scene more inclusive. These entities included the Madison Police Department, the Office of the Mayor, the Alcohol License and Review Committee (ALRC), the Madison Arts Commission (MAC), the Division of Civil Rights, and owners of music venues.  The task force included: 

  • Chair: Dr. Karen Reece, President of Urban Community Arts Network
  • Vice Chair: Rob “Dz” Franklin, Musician, Educator
  • Jalen McCullough, College Student
  • Brennan Haelig, Music/Entertainment Promoter
  • Darwin Sampson, Live Music Business Owner
  • Matt Gerding, Music Venue Property Owner
  • Fernando Cano Ospina, Alcohol License Review Committee
  • Alderperson Arvina Martin, Transit and Parking Commission
  • Yorel Lashley, Madison Arts Commission
  • Caitlin Badsing, Equal Opportunities Commission
  • Syed Mustajab Abbas, Public Safety Review Committee

The TFEME report accepted by the Common Council in 2019 included 31 recommendations aimed to increase access to Hip Hop and all genres of music, build our music infrastructure, and support artists. In accordance with these recommendations, an Economic Impact Analysis was completed in 2021. Currently the consultant firm Sound Diplomacy is undertaking regulatory assessment, comparative analysis, and producing an action plan to build an inclusive music ecosystem. Among other recommendations, the City Department of Civil Rights is currently working on developing an anti-bias, bi-cultural, and cross-cultural training for all music venues to improve their services and hiring practices.

Last Updated: 05/18/2023


Madison Arts Commission
Madison Municipal Building
Department of Planning & Community & Economic Development
215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Suite 017
P.O. Box 2985
Madison, WI 53701-2985

Madison Music Staff

Karin Wolf
Madison Arts Program Administrator
Neighborhood Planning, Preservation, and Design
Department of Planning & Community & Economic Development
(608) 261-9134

Angela Puerta (se habla español)
Urban Planner
Neighborhood Planning, Preservation, and Design
Department of Planning & Community & Economic Development
(608) 267-8649

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