It's all constantly changing, elusive in form. Miami can be loud, bright, and gritty at the same time.
Isabella Acker knew this to be true when she cofounded the Black Key Group about six years ago with her partner, Whitney Lykins. At the time, it was mostly an artist representation company, handling its fair share of mundane band affairs and logistics.
Soon, though, Acker realized it wasn't exactly the bands that caught her heart — it was the events the bands performed at. She recognized the level of creativity that goes into organizing successful events. When thoughtfully done, they have a visible and tangible impact on the community. She wanted to give it a try herself.
Her experience at Black Key as well as some time spent marketing for Live Nation helped to develop her perspective, business sense, and sensitivity to different areas of Miami. When her partner had to move away, the Black Key Group was no more, and Acker suddenly had a new path to explore.
“Prism sprung from the overwhelming feeling that Miami, and the culture that it generates, was in dire need of a sense of place,"
That mission statement looks all nice and happy on paper, but implementing that effectively is the tricky part — especially in Miami, where "collaboration" often takes a back seat to profits. Plus, Prism Music had to overcome the stereotypical image of a PR company: elitists who often pay more attention to their iced coffees than their target market, very much the PubLiZity sketch from Kroll Show.
Isabella recognized that. “When you think of Miami events, you probably think of the exclusive and trendy sponsored events that you probably didn't get invited to. That was, at least, my own experience when I moved to Miami, and I couldn't help but feel so underwhelmed by the experience when I actually was invited.”
But the old way was becoming glaringly specific and pigeonholed. As
From the start Prism Music Group made it a point to integrate live, local music — sounds that authentically represented Miami — into their events. So along with a vast array of vendors, interesting themes, free admission, and local art, some of Miami's most talented and frequently unknown musical acts found themselves on display.
These days Prism has a hand in some of Miami's most popular and burgeoning weekly and monthly events. There's the monthly Arts & Entertainment District's Miami Flea (1440 N Miami Ave.) — a year old in August — which garners around 2,500 attendees each week. Prism throws parties from Little River to Wynwood, often partnering with the Arts & Entertainment District for events like Rooftop Unplugged at the Filling Station or movie nights at Canvas. Prism produces two monthly events at the Wynwood Yard and, in a few days, will be throwing its 4th of July party with Zach Deputy there. The common thread in all these events is usually live, local music.
Sure, the lack of established, functioning live music venues in Miami is stunning considering it's population and talent pool.
But never fear, says Isabella. “Although we barely have any authentic brick and mortar music venues left... I also think incorporating live music into events and programming has become trendy within the last two years.” Pola reiterates, “Sure, tons of venues have closed down, but we have endless space for unconventional concerts — parks, warehouses, neighborhoods that were once overlooked are now becoming cultural destinations. The music will find it’s voice again. We just need to make sure it keeps having a stage, even if that stage is under a bridge or on a rooftop.”
Is this customized, intimate, and local style of events the future in Miami?
It's hard to predict the future of anything in Miami, but the success of Prism Music Group is a good indicator that Acker and Pola are, at the very least, on to something. Local musicians are getting opportunities that weren't there just a few years ago. And, if nothing else, it's a positive step in the right direction for a beautiful but schizophrenic city that has a lot of