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Learn how live music can be performed outdoors in the City of Madison

The pandemic negatively affected many businesses, especially those within the hospitality industry. Live music became extremely challenging to host in-person in light of COVID restrictions. Music venues and musicians across Madison looked for creative alternatives to offer shows in which people would feel comfortable attending. The City received multiple inquiries about what was possible for performers who used amplification to do outdoor music while complying with Public Health policies. To assist musicians and music business owners, the City created a guide to help explain the different ways amplified and non-amplified live music can be performed outdoors.

The Outdoor Music Guide (OMG) is a new resource that describes the ways someone can run an outdoor live music show, whether it is hosted by an individual, organization or a business. The OMG document summarizes all the options based on City ordinances with the understanding that every activity is unique and other rules may apply. The City hopes that this tool answers questions and facilitates the delivery of music-related activities while fostering a vibrant music scene in the community.

“Understanding the City of Madison ordinances and know who and when to contact City agencies is not a straight-forward task, especially to new event organizers. I know small organizations struggle to navigate the system and a short document that indicates what is legally possible, is very beneficial to our music community,” says Rob Dz, a member of the Greater Madison Music City team and organizer of MadLit concert series.

It's great to see such a clear guide released to the public. The Task Force on Equity in Music and Entertainment highlighted the importance of making it as easy as possible for community members to find rules and regulations to ensure equitable access to opportunities outlined in the OMG.” Says Dr. Karen Reece, President of Urban Community Arts Network and leader of the Greater Madison Music City team.

The creation of the OMG was a collaborative effort of City agencies, including the Planning Division, City Attorney’s Office, Zoning, City Clerk’s Office, Parks Division, and Economic Development Division.

Explore the guide and learn more about music initiatives in Madison on our City Music Website.

For questions about this guide, please contact City of Madison Planning Division, Angela Puerta at