Happy New Year From Imurj
Our first full year of promoting local art and music was an amazing experience made possible by the enthusiastic response of the local artists and musicians themselves! As of today, we now have 1,182 vested members, 1,127 recordings uploaded to Imurj Radio (“locals only Spotify”), 982 works of art uploaded to the Imurj online Gallery (“locals only Etsy”), and over 4,000 FaceBook followers.
This remarkable response to our initial presentation confirmed the desire of local artists to join together to broadcast their music and display their art, and it has encouraged us to invest heavily in the next version of the web-based platforms for Imurj Radio, the On-line Gallery, and to create a “locals only YouTube” (Imurj v-Portal) as well. We will begin beta-testing the new platforms in local businesses beginning in January and hope that by April this effort will generate commissions and royalties for Imurj members. We will be actively soliciting videos for Imurj v-Portal in March.
Importantly, Imurj entered into a partnership with “That Station”, 95.7 FM, to promote the “Imurj Artist of the Week”, which broadcasts a little background about the musicians and plays their recording throughout that week. In addition, Imurj is also promoting the musicians via a partnership with Crumbs Music, which was founded by the Grammy and Oscar winning music supervisor, Ray Williams. Crumbs Music provides a catalog for music supervisors and advertising agencies that simplifies the process of licensing sync rights to songs (which is an important source of revenue for musicians), and Imurj is getting a special page in their catalog for our local members! Finally, each month a members’ works are selected for our Featured Recording, Featured Artist, and Featured Video to display on our home page.
In regards to events at Imurj, every month we rotate amazing displays of our members’ works of art (for sale, BTW) so you can stare at beauty, instead of bare walls or beer signs, when you enter Imurj. We also added a number of extremely comfortable couches and lounges this year, and we started serving food in October. Most of the events below are free and open to the public.
We established an incredible singer songwriter’s open mic every Wednesday, with 25-30 performers and an audience with often more than a hundred or more music lovers who are there to support and encourage the performers. We also have open mic events for comedians (every other Monday), and Poetry/Spoken Word (every other Sunday). In addition, on Tuesday we kick off with 2 hours of live-figure drawing, Drink and Draw”, which leads into musicians cutting loose at the Legendary Bonzanza Open Jam, which provides full, back-line equipment and a top-notch, house band to back up those who want to rock. Finally, every 4th Monday, we host the Pinecone Bluegrass Jam, which attracts nationally known musicians.
When we see talent at our open mics, we “create a bill” around performers who show promise and are ready to play a full set. We pick 3 acts that compliment, but don’t compete, with each other, from a genre perspective and host the highly popular “Imurj Artist Spotlight” once or twice per month. If you want to see hot new, up and coming musicians without a cover charge, this is the event for you.
Every 3 months we feature a “Singer/Songwriters in the Round” event where successful and highly talented performers trade off playing their songs and telling a little about their songwriting process. Also every 3 months, we host an insanely popular Burlesque show by the Silk Stocking Sirens organized by Rachel Riot and the Raleigh PRIDE Drag Show organized by GSA at NC State. In addition, we have hosted minimalist theater events, Shamrock break-dancers including the Raleigh Rockers, NC Symphony members engaging in jazz, and NC ballet dancers choreographing to the rock and roll of the PsuedoCowboys! A half-dozen artists have had their CD-release parties at Imurj because of our tremendous sound system, gorgeous venue, and outstanding program event managers who ensure an evening to remember. Finally, we have hosted a number of charity events and private corporate events at Imurj in the past year and are proud to contribute to the community. You really should check out the some of our event videos to get an idea!
Our first song contest generated over 3,000 votes and paid out $500 in prizes. Next year we hope to have multiple contests for various genres to “share the wealth” with important, but less popular, genres. Our recording studios mixed over 100 recordings (in studio and live on our stage) including albums/EPs from Nico Zarcone, Nat Howl, Finian St. Omer II, and many more! You can check out their albums on Spotify. Our video production unit has produced 89 videos for visual artists, musicians, and corporate clients.
In regards to generating revenue for our visual artists, we have obtained over $7,000 in commissions for our members through sales of their art in our Imurj Gallery, in the Imurj Locals’ Shop, and at our Imurj Extension gallery program, which places art in a number of local businesses (e.g. Industrious Raleigh, The Eye Institute, Parkside Restaurant, etc.). With the success of this initial test, we plan to aggressively expand the Imurj Extension Gallery beginning in March to display as much local art in as many local businesses as possible.
For this next year, our goals are to expand the number of local businesses playing local music and displaying local art. We hope to expand Imurj Radio’s content of Spoken Word and Comedy. We also hope to establish partnerships with venues in other towns (e.g. Wilmington, Asheboro, the Triad, Charleston, Richmond) that share our commitment to local art and music and create a “Regional Tour Circuit”, where Imurj confirms that the venue will treat the artists with respect and not rip them off and that Imurj confirms that the musicians will show up sober and ready to play their butts off.
In closing, we would like to wish a Happy New Year to our 1,000+ members who make Imurj, the Artists’ Café, a special place for the local art and music community!