Our Story

The Columbus Music Commission (CMC) was formed in 2016 by community members who recognized a need to cultivate and support local music talent in the greater Columbus area. A diverse Board of Directors was brought together by a shared passion for both music and community. This leadership is comprised of area songwriters, musicians, educators, lawyers, and business and city leaders from all walks of life, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds.

CMC offers educational programs, career initiatives, and performance opportunities to support the artistic and personal growth of youths, music-makers, and aspiring entrepreneurs in our community. Our work begins by providing local children and teens with the tools needed for early music training, continues with workforce development for young adults pursuing careers in the music industry, and results in a music business infrastructure that benefits the region. These efforts advance the organization’s foundational pillars of education, performance opportunities and employment, as well as economic development.

The Columbus Music Commission is dedicated to seeing Columbus become a globally recognized center for music and innovation. It is our mission to connect music makers, music commerce, and community to engage in creating, performing, and promoting great music for Columbus and the world. We believe that through the support of music, we can help build richer, happier, more vibrant lives for the people of our community and enrich the overall economy of Columbus.

CMC currently offers six robust programs:

  • Gift of Music – Annual student instrument drive that partners with Columbus City Schools to support equity in music education.

  • Music Mondays – Bi-monthly forums led by top industry executives offering skill-building workshops on career advancement, marketing, entrepreneurship and more. Provides rare networking opportunities for local musicians.

  • Music Everywhere/Music Columbus – Connects local musicians with performance employment opportunities through partnerships with local venues, the Columbus Crew, Downtown Development, and more.

  • Earn as You Learn – Our internship program launched in June 2021 by funding work opportunities, at $15 per hour, in the local music industry for young adults.

  • Career Intensive Workshops – Skill-building workshops led by industry experts that introduce key principles of contract law, record production, and other music business facets.

  • The Unheard – Showcases for all-ages in which young audiences have the rare opportunity to see musicians their own age perform in professional environments where they are usually ineligible to perform or attend.

The organization currently employees three full-time employees: Executive Director, Bruce Garfield and Project Manager, Thane Leshner, and Junior Project Manager, Olivia Stefanoff. Volunteers and local business partners provide critical support for all six current CMC programs. Past volunteers have included employees of Donatos, the City of Columbus, and American Electric Power, and the partnering organizations of WNBC-4, the Columbus Convention Center, Easton Town Center, Shadowbox Live, Music Go Round, Vaughn Studios, Harmony Project, School of Rock Royal, CD102.5, WCBE, and WOSU 101. The community has demonstrated their belief and investment in the CMC mission through donated time, resources, and other contributions.