Writer / Kara Reibel

Ten years ago, Jeb Banner was transferring music from cassettes to digital. He had a group of them done and was attempting to share the music to some friends via email. This method was horribly inefficient, so he worked out a solution. Banner bought a domain, used his computer as the server, and set up a family tree to see the relationship of those using the site.

“I sent a link to 4-5 musician friends and it just snowballed organically,” said Banner. Through word of mouth by followers and fans of local bands, Musical Family Tree has grown into a large community of musicians.

After a year of managing the site by himself, and given the exponential growth, Banner sought help. He filed for a nonprofit status and brought in others to help.

Through the generous donations of sponsors, MFT is a free service. Fans may stream or download their music of choice. Bands may apply, requiring them to upload a few songs. The focus is entirely on original music, not cover bands. Once approved, the musicians may upload an unlimited amount of material.

“It is unclear at this point how many songs and bands we have in our files, but it’s a lot,” said Executive Director of MFT Jon Rogers.

Dedicated to archiving and sharing Indiana music, MFT has now expanded into a blog, recording projects, promotion of Indiana artists and live concerts.

What began as an online music archive is adding a significant physical component. It may be a bit more of a storage room, but the potential of a music library for MFT is certainly evolving. Through the MFT platform, musicians and bands get to release their music and share it with their fans.

“MFT has become a unique repository for underground Indiana music that doesn’t exist anywhere else,” shares Banner. “We will continue to capture that, but also build audiences for these bands.”

Visit MusicalFamilyTree.com for more information.

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