Community Voices

Creating a space for the future of music.

Words by Sam Lauron  Photos by Dave PedleyAmy Price, & Nicola Gell

Black Fret, a local music nonprofit, is on a mission to build a supportive community that empowers Austin musicians to create and perform new work.

Each year, Black Fret members nominate artists and bands who then perform in private listening sessions across the city. These intimate gatherings lead up to the end of the year Black Fret Ball where 20 winners are awarded major and minor grants formed from annual member dues. The membership-based organization has been awarding grants to Austin musicians since 2014 and recently hit a major milestone:  surpassing one million dollars in payments to musicians. With 450 members (and counting), it’s clear that each person involved wants nothing but success for Austin’s music community.

“It’s an interesting community,” says Director of Member Experience, Erin Ivey. “All of the members that I have met up to this point have been really dynamic, interesting individuals. What we all have in common is we’re obsessed with music, and we want to see the Austin music scene thrive.”

Among the 2017 grant winners were David Ramirez, The Bright Light Social Hour, Mobley, Jackie Venson and Whiskey Shivers. A former grant winner herself, Ivey knows firsthand how much the award can impact both the career and the perspective of a musician. “It is such an amazing vote of confidence for an artist,” Ivey grins. “Money is fantastic and allows for new work to be created and performed, but more than that, it’s a clear sign from a strong community that your work is valued…it’s really powerful.”

While Austin’s music scene has certainly transformed over the years, it’s organizations like Black Fret that help build a strong community that remains excited for the future of music. Ivey knows that change isn’t always a bad thing; adapting to new ways is the key to success in this industry. “As the city grows and changes, the face of it will change, but the DNA is very strong,” she says. “I think a lot of people who will be succeeding are looking at it as a challenge and an opportunity to create what they want in this new space.”

To become a Black Fret member or to learn how you can get involved, visit


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