Frequently Asked Questions
About Make Music Houston
What is Make Music Houston?
Completely different from a typical music event, Make Music Houston is open to anyone who wants to take part. On June 21, every kind of musician — young and old, amateur and professional, of every musical genre — shares their music with friends, neighbors, and strangers. Thousands of amateur musicians take the opportunity to play in public spaces. Professional musicians perform for new audiences, who come out from under their headphones to hear unfamiliar groups. And everyone is invited to sing along and enjoy the first day of summer.
Where did the idea come from?
Make Music Houston is based on France’s “Fête de la Musique,” a national musical holiday inaugurated in 1982. Ever since, the event 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, Nigeria, Canada, and Japan.
Why is the City of Houston celebrating Make Music Day?
As vaccinations increase, we wanted to join cities around the world celebrating summer via the universal language of music. We are a global city, and we want to celebrate our diverse communities with the joy of music! City Hall will be lit orange in honor of Make Music Day Houston on Monday, June 21, 2021.
Who can participate?
Anyone and everyone! Amateurs, part-time professionals, and established artists are all welcome.
Is this an annual event?
Yes, Make Music Houston will take place every June 21st.
Who puts this all together?
The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) is coordinating the City’s first Make Music Day celebration. We invite you to help recruit musicians and venues!
How can I get involved?
Everyone is welcome to promote the day and all the events from now to June 21. On Make Music Day, we invite you to join an event, host an event and definitely post pictures and videos from events. Don’t forget to tag @HoustonMOCA. If you are interested in being a Make Music Day Houston ambassador, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What else does MOCA do?
The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) develops policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs in the community, attract visitors and leverage private investment. It helps the public and City departments and offices realize cultural projects that advance their goals and benefit the city’s 2.2 million residents and nearly 22.3 million annual visitors.
I want to play in Make Music Houston. What do I do?
Welcome on board! If you are a musician and would like to perform on June 21 as part of Make Music Houston, please go to makemusicday.org/houston and get started. You can create an artist profile and use the matchmaking tool to make arrangements with locations. If you already have an event planned, please list your event!
When you are making plans, remember that Make Music Houston is not a typical event, 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 encourage artists to create their own performance locations — see below!
Do union member musicians receive an honorarium to play in MMH?
Musicians and artists performing on Make Music Day Houston can receive funding via the Houston Professional Musicians’ Association (HPMA). For more information, please visit their website at https://www.afmhouston.com.
I want to host a MMDH concert. What do I do?
Welcome on board! If you have an outdoor location where you’d like to host a concert (such as the patio at your building, office garden/plaza, etc.), you can create a venue profile for your location, and use the matchmaking tool to make arrangements with artists on makemusicday.org/houston.
If you are not in the habit of hosting live music, take a moment to think through the logistics — what kind of music makes sense for the space? Where will artists set up? What kind of sound equipment can you offer? How many hours of music makes sense for your location?
What you decide to provide to artists is up to you; at a minimum, most locations provide access to electricity and a glass of water.
We also encourage locations to register their own artists — see below!
Can I register multiple locations or artists to participate in MMDH?
Absolutely! You are welcome to create multiple venue profiles on makemusicday.org/houston 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 show with multiple bands, you can create profiles for each one. Just be sure to create a separate profile for each location and each artist, so that each one can be officially matched in the system and included in our promotions.
Where can musicians play?
If it’s private property, you must obtain authorization from the property owner. The only permit that you would be required to obtain would be the Sound Permit, and that’s only if the setup includes having amplified sound (i.e., microphones, speakers, music system, etc.).
In a variety of spaces:
Downtown Theater District – You can apply for a permit here if you plan on utilizing any portion of the sidewalk in the Theater District area: https://www.houstonpermittingcenter.org/hpwmp1003. If there are specific locations within the downtown vicinity or have additional questions, you can call the number on the website. The theater/entertainment district is bounded by Preston Street on the north, Dallas Street on the south, Milam Street on the east, and Interstate Highway 45 on the west.
City Parks: In Houston, City Parks (HPARD) locations are free on a first come first serve basis for use in an open area grass space. The hours are 8:00 am- 9:00 pm and HPARD does not provide electricity. Gazebos and require separate HPARD reservation at https://apm.activecommunities.com/houstonparks. Amplified sound also requires an additional permit at https://www.houstonpermittingcenter.org/aracpe1061 . If you have additional questions, please contact 832-393-0868.
Conservancies 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 may make them available as venues on the matchmaking website. If you don’t see them listed, plan ahead and please reach out to them directly.
Other Spaces: If you want to use some other kind of outdoor location — such as a cemetery, trail, parking deck, etc. — please contact the owner of the space.
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 log in, and list your event!
What about COVID-19 restrictions?
Please visit the following websites regarding COVID-19:
Guidelines to ensure key safety standards for event participants: Every event is unique, and requisites may vary, however, please check the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) web site for up to date recommended guidelines and safety information on how to best plan for your event. This information can be found on the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/considerations-for-events-gatherings.html. Covid-19 information may also be found at the Office of the Texas Governor, Greg Abbott’s “Open Texas” website at https://open.texas.gov/.
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 location. Then either ask your friend to sign up their band, or do it for them — log in, click on the “My Artists” tab, and fill in their information. Finally, match the artist and venue profiles together at the time of your choosing.
What happens if it rains?
If it does rain, concerts planned for sidewalks may take place inside a building lobby or store front provided that it is okay with the space’s owner. During the matchmaking process, registered locations will indicate what they will do in case of rain.
Will musicians be paid to perform?
Our office does not pay musicians — nor do musicians pay us. Most musicians perform for free. But artists and venues are welcome to make any financial arrangements they wish, as long as the concerts are free and open to the public. Union members, see above.
If MMDH doesn’t pay musicians, what does it do?
Make Music Houston sets up the framework for your performance with the matchmaking tool on the website at makemusicday.org/houston and promote the day as well as all the events.
Who will provide a stage / backline / tuned grand piano / etc for my concert?
Make Music Houston is not a typical music event. The true spirit of Make Music Houston is that of a holiday: people getting together in their own neighborhoods, creating their own musical events in a do-it-yourself fashion.
MMDH 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 events. This includes finding electricity, and providing whatever equipment is needed. Artists and locations collaborate to produce the events, find electricity, and provide whatever equipment is needed.
Unlike most music events:
- Houston itself is your stage. We’re not constructing stages (though some local promoters could do so — and securing additional permits as needed). Performances generally take place at the same level as the audience.
- 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 bass solo, you don’t have to ask our permission!
- 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 Houston!
How late in the evening can my performance go?
First and foremost, be respectful of your neighbors and surroundings. If you are performing on private property and outdoors, we do not recommend playing music late at night. It must, additionally, fall within Houston’s sound ordinance.
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.
What if I play an instrument, but don’t have my own band?
Be on the lookout for opportunities to join or create a “Mass Appeal” event! A “Mass Appeal” is where many musicians band together to perform massive pieces written for a single type of instrument. Each performance works differently, depending on the genre, the instrument, and the location. To learn more, go to the national projects page here: https://www.makemusicday.org/national-projects/mass-appeal/.
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 sign up separately — we need to have a unique musical description and web address for everyone. Then have each one match themselves to the same location, at different time slots. If the entire program has a particular theme or title, put that in the location’s description box.
What will MMDH do to help promote my concert?
We list all events that have been created on the Make Music Houston website (with descriptions and artist websites) and we will promote on City and MOCA’s social media We will also promote to local press. At the same time, 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, calling up all of their friends, etc.
What if my ensemble signs up now, and has to back out later?
If you do need to cancel, it is your responsibility to contact the location of your performance. Please let the location know about all program changes ASAP.
Can MMDH performers sell CDs, or ask for donations?
Musicians are not allowed to solicit donations, nor can we provide the permits to allow vending at your event. 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.
Can I charge admission for a Make Music Houston concert?
Can my concert be “invitation only”?
Can I create a MMDH event that does not include any music?
Can I have my event indoors?
Yes, if the location allows.
Can I perform outside Houston city limits for MMDH?
There are Make Music events all over the world on June 21st, and you are welcome to perform wherever you wish, but be aware of whatever regulations and permit issues apply outside of Houston.
I’d like to take full advantage of Make Music Houston and perform all over town!
Scheduling more than one performance is fine. However, please allow reasonable time for travel and set-up if you plan to perform more than once.