Davis Independent Music Initiative offers grants for local musicians

Davis Independent Music Initiative offers grants for local musicians

Photo Credits: Davis Independent Music Initiative's logo. (Davis Independent Music Initiative / Courtesy)

Joel Daniel of the DIMI aims to help Davis’ struggling artists

The Davis Independent Music Initiative (DIMI) was founded in 2019 with one mission: secure the future of independent music in Davis by collecting resources that would allow musicians to reach their full potential.

Joel Daniel, the founder of DIMI and the first recipient of its $5,000 grant (now $6,500, and as Daniel says, “Hopefully up to $10,000” in the future), remembers a time when “The G Street Club had bands like every Thursday to Saturday night minimum.” 

“I’ve watched musicians in town just sort of come and go over the years,” Daniel said. “And when I first got to Davis in the late nineties there were a bunch more venues to play in. Now there’s just fewer venues.”

“My hope is that we can all be like, ‘Oh yeah, I love that band’ and be like ‘Yeah they came from Davis!’ and have that personal connection to this thing that comes from the town that we all hopefully like,” Daniel said. We just want to support an original musical work from Davis that we could conceivably all be watching on the ‘Tonight Show’ in two years.”

The money for the DIMI grant comes from the city, and though the work has been challenging, Daniel hopes that it will help breathe life back into a local music scene that has faltered over the last 20 years. The annual DIMI Artist Grant is just one part of the project. Applications for the 2021 grant closed recently, and though just one of the 13 applicants will receive the funds, Daniel intends to “come up with other ways to help the other 12.” 

Some of the other ways DIMI intends to help aspiring musicians are through a series of video lectures and bi-weekly “Tune Ups,” which Daniel said will serve as a kind of “songwriting workshop,” with “the end goal being just trying to make people’s work better. To take something that’s good and make it really good.”

Ultimately, as Daniel said, “It’s just really hard to live in this town and support yourself when you do art. Over the last 5 years I’ve had rent increase like 25%. There’s no way any musician is going to be able to have 25% more revenue coming in over a 5-year period of time unless all of a sudden you get nominated for a Grammy.” The intention is that the grant, and DIMI itself, will make it easier to survive as an artist in Davis, even with the ever-ballooning rent prices and pandemic-induced lull in local art.

The fact remains that initiatives such as the DIMI may become essential—especially for music—to keep local art scenes alive. With streaming services like Spotify offering $0.003-0.005 per listen, putting together a sustainable existence has become much harder even for musicians with established audiences, let alone those first starting out in a local scene.

Daniel comes across as optimistic, though.

“If this resonates with any of your readers, they’re welcome to reach out to me. I’d love people to come to the Tune Ups if you write songs, but you don’t have to. We want a community to talk about this stuff. I just would like to see Davis be a place where you could think, ‘Yeah, these things are happening there, and that’s cool.’ We want to foster an artistic community.”

Written by: Jacob Anderson — arts@theaggie.org