Applications for the Fall 2019 program have closed.

We will reply to all applicants by August 16th, 2019.

Program dates for Fall 2019 are September 10th through December 6th.

Questions? Sign up for office hours to chat one one one with Backline.


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The Program

Three artists/bands participate in a 12-week accelerator, operated by gener8tor, in partnership with 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. The artists/bands selected become Backline Fellows.

Each Fellow receives a $20,000 budget grant to be used towards their career/plan.

The Backline Fall 2019 accelerator program will take place September 10th - December 6th, 2019. It is anticipated the Backline Fellows will spend between 20-40 hours per week participating in the accelerator program. The hours spent each week can be flexible to accommodate the schedule of each participant.


Applicants must:

  • Be an individual artist* or band** creating original music.

  • Live within the seven-county Greater Milwaukee area (Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties). If a band is applying, 50% of members must live within the seven counties.

  • All participants must be at least 18 years old.

  • Be able to participate full-time in the 12-week accelerator (approximately 20-40 hours per week).

  • Demonstrate a commitment to making a full-time career in music.

* An “artist” is defined as someone who creates original music of any genre – a songwriter, instrumentalist, vocalist, producer.

**A band will appoint one member to participate in the program full time and other band members will be required to participate at certain times of the program.


Application Process

In the spirit of being transparent about Backline's process to select the three Fellows, the entire application/review process is outlined below.

  • Phase 1: Narrow to top 50

    • After all applications have been collected, a panel of Milwaukee-based industry experts including engineers, producers, radio professionals, and managers will narrow the applicant pool to the top 50 artists.

    • To remove bias, the panel will include representation across genres, and panelists will not review submissions by artists they have previously worked with. At least two experts will review each submission.

    • This will be done solely based on the music the artists provide in their application, not the social media links.


Phase 2: Narrow to top 25

  • Backline will curate a panel of industry experts across genres to narrow applicants from 50 to 25. These experts will be sourced from outside of Milwaukee, and include engineers, producers, A&R, DJs, radio program directors, and managers.

  • Again, applications at this stage will be reviewed solely based on the music the artists provide in their application.

  • Phase 3: Narrow to top 15

    • To narrow applicants from twenty-five to fifteen, finalists will participate in a five-hour, in-studio group session with up to four other applicants.

    • The studio session will be managed by a studio engineer, a national music industry professional and the program director. Applicants will be judged on their consistency, leadership, productivity and ambition.

    • A videographer and/or photographer may be present during these studio sessions to gather footage for the Backline program.

    • Studio sessions will be held August 12th through August 16th.

  • Phase 4: First Round Interview

  • The Program Director will chat with each of the top fifteen about their goals. The purpose of the conversation is to know how to best work with the artists as they potentially move through the program.

  • Phase 5: Select Backline Fellows

    1. A panel of three national music industry experts will narrow the top eight finalists to the the three Backline fellows. Each finalist will participate in an in-person interview with the panel.

    2. The panelists will listen to three audio files per finalist in advance.

    3. The panel and program director will select the fellows based on talent, ambition and their ability to be significantly impacted by the program.

      *If entering the program with a manager, the manager must interview individually at this stage.