Photo of Chain and the Gang at a Murmrr show by Rebecca Canese
By working with unexpected and underutilized venues like churches and museums, a concert series by N.Y.-based promoters Murmrr keeps costs down for fans and generates more revenue for artists.
Murmrr, run by co-founders Brian Kelly and Grammy Award-winning Producer “Bassy” Bob Brockman (Notorious B.I.G, Bob Dylan), works with underused spaces to not only bring music and culture to the community, but also revitalize interest in those alternative venues. The series has already seen acts from members of Pond and MGMT.
“We’re fully geared to go in and do a pop-up show anywhere we want,” Kelly told Amplify. “The idea is bring value to communities and underutilized spaces. Let’s try to revive it and make it cool and put really awesome shows on.”
The company is currently building a semi-permanent space at a synagogue with a 700-person theater and a 300-person ballroom. They hope to call the Union Temple of Brooklyn home for at least five years while they continue to do pop-ups around the country.
Last year, Murmrr set up at Islip Art Museum, a 100-year-old space in Long Island. The event brought locals to a museum that needed to gain enthusiasm in its own neighborhood.
“The reason that we are able to form such a constructive relationship is because they were saying they wanted more people to come to their museum,” Kelly said. “By bringing in some of these more well-known artists in areas that normally don’t get served, it brings attention to their space too. It’s a symbiotic relationship.”
Murmrr organizers have put on events in churches, temples, museums, warehouses and lofts. After building a headquarters in the Union Temple, they have plans to develop another space on a mountain in upstate New York.
As musicians who have worked in the independent and mainstream areas of the industry, the founders started the company because they understood the struggles of smaller touring musicians.
“I was an independent musician and I’ve played all the rooms, like The Bowery Ballroom and spaces like that. Touring is a really really hard gig even if you are quasi-successful,” Kelly said. “I guess we’ve seen the fissures and cracks within the industry and we’re trying to figure out a way to circumnavigate them.”
Kelly added, “We want to pay the artists a wage where it actually makes sense to go on the road. Ultimately when that happens it allows the artist to focus in on their craft.”
Murmrr is also working with partners like Guitar Center and Six Point Brewery to keep the cost down for attendees, including ticket prices and beverages. They will also be working with Brooklyn promoters AdHoc to book the renovated rooms at the Temple.
The ongoing plan for the company is to bring their pop-up style shows to smaller markets and cities for weekly or bi-weekly series. Murmrr would take artists to underused spaces where their fans have never seen them play and allow for a small tour circuit to be beneficial for the independent spaces and acts.
“If we can bring this ideology to towns that have anywhere from 25-50,000 people, those smaller towns, then we can bring top-tier talent to these places,” Kelly said. “A lot of the bands don’t go to secondary markets because they don’t get paid enough. So what happens is you only have this handful of cities that get high-quality acts while the other ones are relegated to bar bands.”
Kelly added, ” The end game is how do we make art better, how do we make music better.”
To check out Murmrr’s upcoming shows and get more information on the company, head to Murmrr.com.
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