From slinging beer to co-ownership:
Exciting news about the Underground Music Showcase
Youth on Record has joined forces with Two Parts, a Denver-based entertainment company, as a co-owner of the Underground Music Showcase, Denver's largest and longest-running music festival, drawing thousands of music lovers to the Broadway + Baker neighborhoods for three days every July.
Two Parts Founder Casey Berry and Youth on Record Executive Director Jami Duffy will serve as co-managers of UMS LLC, a new Colorado limited liability company that will share oversight of the festival's programming, operations, and finances. The venture was unanimously approved by Youth on Record's Board of Directors in February and formalized on March 22.
As forward-looking, mission-driven organizations, Two Parts and Youth on Record will focus the UMS on Artistic Excellence, Community Impact, and Economic Sustainability, with a commitment to advancing opportunities for historically marginalized communities.
“Everyone keeps talking about new ways of doing things, post-COVID. For Youth on Record, co-owning and co-leading the UMS is a new approach to fulfilling our mission, earning revenue, and reaching more artists and community members," says Duffy. "The work of the UMS is aligned with our mission, making it not only a smart investment, but one that can have a big impact."
"Musical festivals have the unique power to bring huge groups of people together. Nothing else does this: not concerts, not art exhibitions, not conferences, not plays," says Michael Bracy, Youth on Record advisor and national music policy expert Michael Bracy. "The UMS is an incredible opportunity to reach, activate, connect with, and serve a large number of people, which is central to Youth on Record's strategy for innovation and change."
When the festival returns to South Broadway Friday, July 29 to Sunday, July 31, the UMS will once again present back-to-back performances from more than 600 artists and the same spirit of discovery and community that UMS fans expect. And this year, it'll all be in service of a mission, including broad increases in payments to performing artists (starting at $200 per artist and $400 per band) and deeper diversity among performers. Impact Days, a two-day professional development opportunity for UMS performers, and an Impact Show focused on mental health, will be produced by Youth on Record.
The Two Parts/Youth on Record partnership began to take shape last August. Spurred by a $1M grant from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in June 2021, Duffy approached Berry to propose that Youth on Record come in as an owner of the UMS; the nonprofit served as the festival's charitable beneficiary for many years. Two Parts purchased the UMS from the Denver Post Community Foundation in 2018.
"I had the idea that if you center impact and introduce philanthropy to a music festival, you can create something really powerful," says Duffy. "The pandemic made it clear that bold moves are necessary to drive change in our world. Youth on Recorded decided to spend less time freaking out and more time finding solutions."
Unlike most traditional music festivals, which measure success by financial performance alone (which struggle to make it, and often don't), the UMS will measure along a triple-impact bottom line of Artistic Excellence, Community Impact, and Economic Sustainability. Duffy and Berry intend to raise $200,000 from donations, foundation grants, and other philanthropic sources to cover increases in programming expenses not covered by ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, merchandise, and concessions.
Duffy sees the Two Parts/Youth on Record partnership as a model of how nonprofits and music festivals can co-create just and sustainable sources of support while driving impact.
“Youth on Record staff, board members, and volunteers used to sling beer at the festival; now the organization is a co-owner, which gives us a real seat at the table,” says Duffy. “It’s a risk, like any business opportunity. But it’s one worth taking.”
Want to learn more and get involved? Read Denverite's story about the partnership, our press release, and FAQs.
Out Front Magazine: Youth on Record and Two Parts Team Up to Lead Underground Music Showcase
Denver City Council: Youth on Record joins Two Parts to lead Underground Music Showcase