Our mission is to provide Michigan musicians with accessible music business education programming and rich community building experiences that create lasting connection and collaboration opportunities.
Michigan Music Alliance was created in 2019 as a direct response to the needs expressed by West Michigan artists. In July 2019, Executive Director Elle Lively hosted a Music Business Roundtable at Third Coast Recording Co. in Grand Haven, Michigan. The event was attended by 200+ local artists, engineers, promoters, booking agents, venues owners and other industry professionals. We asked the artists in our community what they needed to continue to build their music businesses into sustainable careers. This birthed the B-Side Sessions, a series of free music business education sessions focusing on specific topics anywhere from social media to publishing. The sessions run once a month, September thru April, featuring a panel of industry experts. In 2019, the events were held in studios and venues around West Michigan, but due to COVID-19, they occupied the virtual space in 2020 and 2021. Going fully virtual has allowed MMA to bring free programming to more Michigan artists, all over the state -- increasing our reach.
In addition to free educational music business sessions and DIY resources, we are creating opportunities to help artists connect on a personal level. It is our hope these events will facilitate lasting collaborations and support systems leading to a sustainable music community that focuses on what we all have in common: the love of music.
We also recognize the need to connect artists to local mental health resources and are working with professionals to create new programming that focuses on mental health as an artist. We aim to release these efforts in 2022.
In March 2020, due to our own cancelled events and many local artists losing their primary source of income for an undefined amount of time, we launched the Michigan Artist Relief Fund and began to disburse funds raised to local artists. We were the second COVID-19 response fund launched in the nation specifically for self-employed artists. To raise funds and awareness, we hosted Spread the Music, a four-day fully virtual music festival that featured volunteer artists from all over the state. We raised $40,000 which was disbursed to Michigan artists who applied and qualified for funding. The Michigan Artist Relief Fund is reopened applications in May 2021, after the second annual Spread the Music Festival in March 2021.
We believe in "collaboration over competition" and the power of coming together. Our programming is free and available to all artists. Diversity fuels the spirit of the Michigan Music Community and Michigan Music Alliance. Our commitment to inclusion across genre, race, gender, age, religion, identity and experience drives us forward every day. Our goal is to bridge the gaps and create a flow of community, opportunity and knowledge throughout the entire state. Michigan Music Alliance is proud to be a fully volunteer-powered organization, with an incredible advisory board, team of volunteers and supporting partners. If you would like to get involved, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
John Sinkevics, President
John Sinkevics is a lifelong journalist who started the Local Spins website covering West Michigan's music scene in 2012. After serving as a lead music critic and entertainment writer for The Grand Rapids Press for 10 years, he now serves as editor and publisher of Local Spins, providing news updates on Grand Rapids-area musical happenings, band features, photo galleries, concert and album reviews, podcasts and guest columns, as well as hosting the weekly Local Spins on WYCE radio show at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) spotlighting local and regional music and interviews with Michigan artists. He holds an honors degree in journalism from the University of Michigan and is co-founder of The Honeytones, once described as “the deans of Grand Rapids’ pop-rock scene” and a band that stages an annual Feedback concert to benefit Access of West Michigan’s food pantries for the needy -- an event that's featured dozens of other West Michigan artists for the past two decades.
Yolonda Lavender is the CEO of Soul Artistry LLC which focuses it’s efforts on curating artistry rich experiences and artistic cultivation. Yolonda is also a national recording artist with the independent label Truth Tone Records. She is a singer/songwriter, curator, composer, arranger and performing artist from Kalamazoo, whose sound is soul-based with gospel, r&b, hip-hop, blues and jazz influences. Yolonda has showcased her artistry in artistic spaces around the country and shared stages with the likes of artists such as Erykah Badu, Keith Murray, The Spinners, En Vogue and more. Yolonda is a Certified Nonprofit Professional and has a decade of experience within the nonprofit sector. Yolonda is a self-care ambassador as well as an advocate and activist who takes pride in using her personal artistry to spread the messages of peace and love and to promote social justice all in an effort to evoke change. With more than a decade of experience in curating and artistic development, Yolonda has crafted Soul Artistry as a leading force within the sub-sectors of arts, culture and community engagement.
Nancy Schoenheide Phares
Detroit-based Nancy Schoenheide Phares is a lifelong music superfan whose toddler infatuation with the Beatles, and later all artists rooted in the 70’s west coast folk rock lexicon led to a career path which includes radio station management in both Michigan and California, and serving as Executive Director/Co-Producer of the Detroit Music Awards for nearly a decade. She also helped craft the communications strategy and signature music programs for the revived Michigan State Fair. Nancy currently mentors and provides strategic marketing and media support for a variety of Michigan artists, businesses and events. More about Nancy at www.RockSteady.Biz
Chris Newberg is an attorney and partner at Rodenhouse Law Group. He helps individuals and businesses in civil litigation, business, cannabis, intellectual property, and entertainment matters. While much of his litigation experience comes from working on large-scale, complex lawsuits, there is no case too big or too small for Chris as he takes a great deal of pride in providing his services to individuals and businesses traditionally underserved by the legal community. Chris is one of Michigan’s few entertainment attorneys with actual, first-hand experience in the entertainment industry. Chris knows that to properly represent entertainers, you must not only know the law, but also the business. That’s where he starts to separate from the pack. For over the past decade, Chris has traveled the country as the lead guitarist for Gunnar & the Grizzly Boys, which has given him invaluable perspective and experience concerning the operations of all sides of the music industry. Whether it’s helping a new artist get started in business, working through complex intellectual property licensing issues, or negotiating publishing and record deals, Chris is more than qualified to help. Chris grew up in Rockford, Michigan, and is now raising a family with his wife on the west side of Grand Rapids. He is a graduate and devoted fan of Michigan State University. After attending MSU, he received his law degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. When he’s not working, Chris enjoys playing music, playing with his rambunctious little boys, traveling, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors.
Born and raised in Northern Michigan, Sean Miller is a recent Grand Rapids transplant who is no stranger to the state’s music scene. Miller, both a performing artist (solo and with his duo The Real Ingredients) and entertainment journalist has worked for various publications. He’s won numerous awards for his work including a Michigan Press Association award for a Record-Eagle podcast. As a singer-songwriter, Miller has performed at various conferences across the country including PASIC, SEM, FARM and in venues across the Midwest ranging from listening rooms, house shows, bars and breweries, wineries and festivals. Miller has also served on the Blissfest board of directors. Throughout his tenure on the board, he acted as secretary, had a position on the executive committee and was co-chair of the marketing committee. He is also actively pursuing his master of arts in music business from Berkelee College of Music online.
Music producer/DJ, entrepreneur and technologist, Andrea Wallace (best known as Dre) has passion for building business and empowering those who are part of the creative economy. Dre has invested in projects across industries, including music/entertainment, technology and most recently, consumer products. A west Michigan native, Dre has spent the last 13 years strategizing innovative technology solutions for some of the largest companies in the country, but what Dre is most known for is being "Super". Dre has been an accomplished music producer and DJ for nearly 15 years under the moniker SuperDre, performing at venues around the world and producing music for other artists, TV shows and documentaries. With that strong passion for music and technology, Dre founded Fourtifeye, a music-tech startup focused on using data to drive more meaningful connections between musicians, fans and brands. In 2021, Fourtifeye was acquired by another music-tech company called Opnr and Dre was appointed the new CEO of Opnr.
Follow Dre's adventures on social at @superdrizzy
Shane German moved to Grand Rapids in 2015 with over 20 years of professional music industry experience. He started as a volunteer programmer at WYCE in 2016, eventually moving into his full time role as WYCE Music Director in 2018. Between 1995 and 2004, Shane was a music buyer for Tower Records, Circuit City, and Plan 9 Music in Richmond, Va., working directly with label clients such as Warner Brothers, Sony Music, EMI, Universal Music, and numerous independent record labels. In 2004, he became Manager of Artist and Label Relations at SoundExchange, the only organization designated by the U.S. Copyright Office to collect and distribute digital performance royalties for recording artists and record labels from digital, satellite and streaming internet radio services. In 2012, Shane moved from Washington DC to New York City to be Head of U.S. Artist & Label Relations for the European digital distribution company Believe Digital. Shane is also a (retired) recording artist who has shared the stage with many artists such as Bright Eyes, Bob Mould, Ted Leo, Tegan and Sara, and Le Tigre to name a few. Over the years, Shane has been invited to speak and participate as an industry expert at many music conferences and was Guest Lecturer at Loyola University’s Music Business Program in New Orleans. Shane has been featured in American Songwriter, Billboard, Spin, and Washington Post publications. Shane also served as a Grammy voter and an elected official on the Board of Governors for the DC Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences from 2010-2012.
Nicholas James Thomasma
Earthwork Music singer songwriter Nicholas James Thomasma has over 20 years of industry experience as a performer, organizer, promoter and radio DJ. A board member at Folk Alliance Region Midwest, he is also the curator of the Songtellers, Stories and Songs songwriter series at the Listening Room in Grand Rapids, MI and hosts several songwriting retreat weekends.
Lori Stratton is a music journalist, artist champion and live music aficionado based in Whitmore Lake, Michigan. Her musical journey started while working as a corporate communications writer by day and attending live shows at night and on weekends. That growing love of music later blossomed into The Stratton Setlist, a music blog that spotlights independent artists and musicians inside and outside of Michigan. Lori also writes about local music and artists for Current Magazine, Local Spins and the Ann Arbor District Library’s Pulp blog. Today, Lori volunteers as a communications coordinator for Ypsilanti’s Grove Studios, hosts The Stratton Setlist podcast and works as a library technician – writer/editor for the Ann Arbor District Library.
Elle Lively, Executive Director
Elle Lively is a facilitator for collaboration in the Michigan music scene and freelance consultant focusing on artist development. With a background in tour management, Elle toured through 8 countries and 30+ states with various acts spanning metal to folk. Most recently, Elle was the tour manager for the Michigan indie-folk-rock phenomenon, The Accidentals. She also has a background in nonprofit management, focusing on education and empowerment through service learning. This led Elle to found Michigan Music Alliance in 2019, a nonprofit focused on providing Michigan musicians with accessible music business education programming and rich community building experiences that create lasting connection and collaboration opportunities. As an active member of the Music Managers Forum, Elle hosted the Music Industry Roundtable in West Michigan, has been a judge for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s High School Rock Off, a juror for KDL Vibes, and a judge for The Stray's Battle of the Bands. She has also been a source on music for NPR, The Grand Rapids Business Journal, MLive, and more. Elle was featured in MNSTRM magazine for International Women's Day in 2020. In addition to being the founder and Executive Director of Michigan Music Alliance, Elle is the Events Assistant General Manager at Studio Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan and music curator for Humm Productions. She's also a volunteer programmer at Grand Rapid's WYCE 88.1 FM.
EMMY award-winning composer Sheridan Tongue is internationally acclaimed for his dramatic soundtracks for TV drama, films, and documentaries worldwide.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sheridan has scored some of UK television’s most prestigious drama series including 12 series of Silent Witness, 5 series of DCI Banks as well as Spooks and Sea of Souls.
In 2021 he picked up a prestigious Emmy for his work on the quirky film The Last Artifact that featured scientists from all over the planet searching for a new way to redefine the Kilogram, for Montana PBS.
Sheridan’s documentary scores are also highly memorable for work such as the BAFTA winner Wounded (BBC), the lavish natural history series Atlas 4D and Stephen Hawking’s Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking (Discovery) and Steven Hawking’s Favourite Places (Curiosity Stream), as well as Wonders of the Universe (BBC) and most recently his edgy visceral score for Narco Wars (National Geographic) and his dramatic new soundtrack for the 13 part Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty for AMC+ and BBC America.
Bill Chrysler has had the ears of some of the world’s top musicians for more than three decades. His desire to give artists everything they need to make their best music enabled him to assemble all the tools necessary to build a world class recording facility that caters to every whim of artists interested in capturing their true sound. As one of the most respected monitor engineers in the business, Bill earned the trust of musicians of all stripes, from Paul McCartney, Madonna, and Bob Dylan to Maroon 5, John Mayer, and Christina Aguilera. Years on the road gave him the talent to listen to what they wanted and he built Third Coast Recording Company with the same devotion and same attention to detail to create the perfect space to make music happen.
Music was always a part of the family. I started playing trumpet in fourth grade and took private lessons for eight years with three different private instructors. I spent every summer at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and toured Europe with the Blue Lake International Symphonic Band in 1990, and participated in the Westshore Youth Symphony and many honors bands and orchestras in Michigan throughout high school. I continued to play trumpet throughout my four years at Kalamazoo College. Knowing how great music is for brain development, I have encouraged my sons to learn instruments. Both of my sons have taken piano lessons to gain a better understanding of music theory, something I wish I had done. (I bought my own piano as a kid and taught myself songs, and we also had an organ for a short while and I loved playing that.) While I am no longer involved in music performance myself, I appreciate live music and often attend shows. Music plays such a big part in brain development, stress relief, being a part of something larger that yourself- and I love being a part of that culture. My first memories of listening to music are from records playing on my parents' extremely huge record player that was like a piece of furniture. We listened to classical music and songbirds like Billie Holliday and Louis Armstrong and so many Christmas classics. When I found my "own" music- it was Madonna and Michael Jackson in third grade. Then I hit my goth phase and now know every song by The Cure inside and out. Currently I listen to more music from Joshua Radin, Blanco White, John Butler Trio and Vance Joy, among others. I have a master's degree in counseling, and have worked 18 years in public schools as a school counselor. I currently serve on the Michigan School Counseling Association board, and the Holmes Parent Club board along with the MMA board.
Binnie shares a life long passion for music, community, and helping others with her husband, Bill. She runs Third Coast Recording Company in Grand Haven, MI and has extensive touring experience. Her love of music and passion for helping others is an asset to Michigan Music Alliance as she helps us explore new opportunities for community involvement.
Binnie resides in Grand Haven with her husband Bill, their fur baby Ruby, and keeps tabs on their two children, who are also in the music industry.