Live Music Collective Increases Musical Initiatives at Colgate

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Early this fall, a group of Colgate students, faculty, and staff quietly launched the Live Music Collective. Their debut took the form of a far-from-quiet full-day music festival, co-sponsored by the University’s four Residential Commons.

The collective is devoted to bringing a diversity of live music performances to campus and the Hamilton area. It is designed to deepen the musical culture on campus and support students who are eager to learn about possible career paths in music: in booking, marketing, and promoting acts; interviewing artists; creating digital archives; and even performing their own work.

The collective grew out of the Brown Commons Coffeehouse Live Music Series, which hosts live shows and has been a staple of the Coleman and Irene Brown Brown Commons since 2017. It draws inspiration from Colgate’s intention, stated in the Third-Century Plan, to further integrate the arts into the University’s intellectual fabric.

Jeff Bary, faculty co-director of Brown Commons and associate professor of physics and astronomy, with Interim Associate University Librarian Joshua Finnell, spent last summer and most of the fall semester building the organization — an effort that continues as they recruit new members from across campus. 

“During our WRCU show, Gettin’ Down with Brown Commons, we started chatting between songs about the range of activities for the Live Music Collective,” says Finnell. “With the help of a group of faculty and students interested in live music we began the work on our inaugural series.” 

The LMC has since finalized contracts, venues, marketing, and ticketing for a live music series this spring. Among the crew making it happen is WRCU Music Director Drew Tompkins ’23.

“I am most excited to see Live Music Collective grow as both an organization and as a presence on campus,” says Tompkins, who assists with promotion and show preparation. “Ideally, Live Music Collective will be a mainstay in Colgate’s community, providing semiregular concerts for all students, faculty, and staff to enjoy.”

Beyond providing campuswide entertainment, faculty and staff in the collective offer technical support for students to inquire into possible futures within the music industry — whether the networking entails a post-show conversation with a performer, a quick email to an agent, or an interview with a band.

Bary and Finnell hope students — by attending live events, working with musical professionals, and perfecting personal musical practices — will develop a strong sense of  individuality and self-advocacy; that they will take ownership of the collective while drawing on the support of faculty and staff, who are participating alongside them as mentors, advisers, and sources of consistency.

“The Live Music Collective is unique because it provides an opportunity for students to engage in all aspects of hosting a national touring artist on campus,” Finnell says. “It’s exciting to think about students leveraging this experience to explore opportunities in the music business after graduation.”