Music is born out of artists, but it is spread by the individuals who resonate with it.
At the local level, there is a recipe for bands’ successes. One of the main ingredients is people like Arthur Machado, a University of Wisconsin-Madison senior who supports musicians and is willing to carve out the necessary space for them to perform.
"If people are going to do this they have to do it because they care about the bands and have faith that those bands are going to get big and they're going to get the recognition they deserve," said Machado.
Machado's apartment wall is embellished by a staggering array of album covers, some of which are produced by local bands he's met over the years. He jokes about his closet being 90% band T-shirts.
When asked about his work helping a small group book an emo skate park show in Milwaukee, his mustache wrapped around his mouth into a toothy smile.
It would be indolent to glue Arthur to one description. He's a freelance journalist, a talent booker for local and touring bands, a radio host, a talent buyer, the editor-in-chief of music publication EMMIE Magazine, the frontperson in band Mio Min Mio — and a student.
Machado doesn't have his own venue to host gigs, but he has an established network and industry expertise. He's formed friendships through student music organizations and connected with others over platforms such as Twitter, making him a flexible booker. Bands often reach out to him via social media, he said, and he's become familiar with a noticeable community crowd at his events.
Machado connected bands to DIY scene venues like Nottingham Cooperative, Madison Manor and Dead Prairie. He’s also booked bands at three University music venues: Der Rathskeller, the Memorial Union Terrace and The Sett.
Machado moved to the United States from Brazil seven years ago and didn't have pre-existing ties to the music industry, but he felt entering it came to him quite naturally. He values connecting small bands to venues because he believes in promoting artists and giving them platforms he feels they deserve.
It's a hobby for Machado, one that has championed small artists and welcomed individuals looking for under-21 venues in Madison.
"I do think there's a lot of value in doing small-scale community work,” Machado said. “If I don't do it, and if there's not people that think like me that are doing it, no one else will.”
Madison has a robust network of larger venues. But Machado has noticed factors such as lasting COVID-19 capacity restrictions and percentage cuts from artist pay that make it difficult for smaller bands to perform at mainstream venues.
For example, if Arthur has a band make the trek out from Minnesota, but the venue hosting requires a large percentage of their ticket profit to go towards fees, he'd be disappointed if small artists profits were weak.
Sometimes, they need to sell out shows to move on to the next venue, a difficult feat for indie musicians.
"You don't have anywhere that focuses on booking local bands [or] focuses on bringing smaller touring acts, so the biggest thing I've been trying to do when booking is filling that gap," Machado said.
Machado strategically fills this aperture by evaluating a band’s genre, who their supporters are and where their music would meet the excitement of a crowd. If he knows a band will have a large number of friends show up to their show, he'll place a less-known opener beforehand.
Machado brings an anti-gatekeeping mentality to music. He’s tired of the "cool-kid" mentality that houses competition and superiority. What Machado wants is for bands to be treated equally, regardless of numbers and popularity. In the past, he's made a conscious effort to diversify setlists at the venues he works for.
"There's very much this cool kid stigma, where you go to these places with a carefree attitude, smoking a cigarette and assuming people don't know what you're talking about. That's silly," Machado said.
Recently he saw over 150 people at his Halloween event. Machado said it was a fulfilling moment and was grateful an independent event gained such traction.
Despite being a name in the established local music scene, Machado explained his successes with an unavoidable casualty. Becoming a community name, his imposter syndrome experience still prevailed when he discussed his work.
But Machado has been widely involved in the music scene since his early days at WSUM as a freshman, and he has a resume built from these meaningful endeavors. He hopes to bring all of his wisdom into the music industry after he graduates.
By now, Machado has established lasting relationships with the bands in Madison. He aids them because he enjoys supporting them. And because it's fun.
"If you do a lot of small-scale community work, I think that sets the foundation for both your fans, for yourself and all of the staff and promoters that helped you to get there,” Machado said. “No one that does that successfully does that to be cool, they do it because they care."