Voyage Michigan Feature - August 2022
"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 has 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 got her first taste of touring as a photographer, merch manager, and tour manager for several indie, post-hardcore, and metal bands.
Elle was raised in a family that prioritized musical education and started classical violin at age 5. At age 9, she added piano. At age 14, flute was added to the mix, which quickly led to ukulele and most recently, bass and guitar. Elle has a strong background in music theory and enjoys growing her production skills.
Elle got into music because she didn’t enjoy performing, but her friends did. Seeing their passion made her want to learn skills and grow tools to help people she cared about become successful and follow their dreams. She is passionate about being a connector for individuals to find what they need to sustainably pursue their passion.
She also has a background in nonprofit management, focusing on education and empowerment through service-learning. During high school and college, Elle was selected to serve on the Petoskey Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation Youth Advisory Committee as an officer, which led her to take it a step further and be accepted to the Michigan Community Foundations Youth Project board, organizing 3 statewide conferences hosting over 500 students during her time there. Her focus was spent organizing logistics and creating programming for students to get exposure to service-learning, philanthropy, team building, and grant-making skills.
This experience led Elle to combine her passions and 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. During the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, Elle worked to raise over $70,000 through MMA to issue microgrants to struggling musicians. In 2020 and 2021, she organized Spread the Music, a virtual fundraiser spanning 5 days and featuring over 200 artists, virtually and at select venues all over the state. You can learn more about the festival at www.spreadthemusicfestival.com,
As an active member of the Music Managers Forum, Elle hosted the Music Industry Roundtable in West Michigan in 2019, was a judge for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s High School Rock Off in 2019, a juror for KDL Vibes in 2022, and a judge for The Stray’s Battle of the Bands in 2022. 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.
As a firm believer in Collaboration Over Competition, the focus of her nonprofit, she has put two supergroup performances together. These collaborative video projects have brought female artists from all over Michigan together to pay tribute to female musicians who paved the way. The latest project, Respect, was released on March 8, 2021 to celebrate International Women’s Day. In March 2022, Elle worked with Sarena Rae to produce a live show featuring 14 artists, focusing on “Music That Raised Us” as a partnership between MMA, NAACP, and Studio Park for International Women’s Day and Black History Month.
In June 2022, Elle created the Ovation Awards. These aren’t your typical music awards. The Michigan Music Alliance Ovations Awards are about the people behind the music who have taken action to do something amazing to help others in our music community. These awards highlight and celebrate some of the individuals who made an impact by embracing the core values that make us come together: collaboration, community building, equality, and sustainability.
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.
Best Advice I’ve Ever Gotten: Ask for what you need.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road? Oh my gosh, no.
The phrase “Jack of All Trades” has always hit me in a funny way. I’ve done a lot of things because I like skill collecting. I’ve tried a lot of jobs. It isn’t that I don’t know what I’ve wanted to do in the past, I just struggled with “is it realistic?”. I always thought I needed a boring real job. I decided if I could be good at anything I picked up, I surely wouldn’t fail doing what I actually was passionate about. Turns out all skills transfer if you look at it the right way.
In Fall 2018, I hit a jumping-off point. My daughter was a year old and I didn’t want to wait anymore before I started going after the life I wanted. So, I moved to GR from Petoskey finally and started shooting shows. And meeting everyone I could. 4 years later, I feel like I’ve met SO MANY people and grown some valuable connections that have allowed me to be self-employed before covid. Touring was amazing and I learned more than I ever thought possible, but after 2020, I decided to stay home with the little full time and focus on doing what I could for the music community here. I want to kill the starving artist mentality. Too many of my friends and people in the community I believe in need help. I believe West Michigan has a future that looks like Austin, TX. I believe we can build sustainability that not only encourages artists to move here but retains the talent it grows. So, I’m doing what I can to spread that idea.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work? I enjoy collaborative efforts and strive to have the opportunity to organize bringing people together for common good. I’m proud of being described as a mother, therapist, best friend, chef, security guard, and travel agent by artists. I’m excited to keep developing as I learn how to communicate with anyone and make them feel heard.
Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis? I learned that crisis is the opportunity for change for the better sometimes. It really made musicians get creative. Livestreaming took off, alternate creative income sources, etc. I feel like it made us miss each other, which was a good thing. We appreciate live music more after not having it for 2 years."