Music is a mission for Michelle Davis.
“I think a lot of people believe the music industry is dying or fading out, but really it is just changing,” she said.
As the wind blows through the trees outside Hendershot’s Coffee in Athens, Georgia, Davis sips a cup of coffee and chats about the local music scene. Athens bred hit bands like R.E.M. and the B-52’s, and Davis is determined to guide upcoming Athenian musicians to similar splendor.
Davis is the communications officer for the Athens Area Arts Council, a non-profit organization that promotes Athens-based artists in the community. An aspiring lawyer, she has a passion for enabling musical artists to live comfortable financial lives.
Many artists need to better structure their revenues, Davis said, as they often don’t know when or how much they’ll be paid.
Davis studied public relations at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Following graduation, she worked for Ticket Alternative, an Atlanta-based small company. There, she wrote press releases, interviewed artists, booked shows and coordinated press coverage.
“I learned a lot during my time there,” Davis said.
In 2008, Davis became music editor at Flagpole magazine in Athens, which allowed her to live closer to her boyfriend, while still working somewhere she enjoyed.
Davis was excited to become an Athens townie, she said.
“It was easy to get attention, I felt like a big fish in a small pond,” Davis said.
Davis’ most vivid memory from her time at Flagpole was when a fire destroyed the Georgia Theatre’s entire interior.
“I loved seeing the community come together to support the theater,” she said. “Musicians, booking agencies and various venues in Athens came together in support.”
Davis’ Flagpole experience inspired her to enter law school in 2012. Today, she awaits the results of her bar exam.
“I was thrilled to realize that the music industry needs young attorneys that are up to date with the changing technology,” she said.
While at law school, Davis got married and had a baby.
Brian Stoltz, who worked with Davis as an officer in the Sports and Entertainment Law Society, said Davis is fantastic to work with and that he couldn’t have done it without her.
“She is so great to work with because she has an amazing sense of humor but also a drive and focus that I really admire – she can get the job done but make it fun too,” Stoltz said.
Davis joined AAAC in May 2015 at the suggestion of the council’s vice president, Kay Stanton, who met Davis in the local music scene.
Davis contributes an “unreal amount of energy and drive,” Stanton said. “She is a huge asset to the council and arts community.”
Davis dreams of growing AAAC’s work by creating a legal fund for Athens artists fighting copyright infringement.
“We (AAAC) are in a transition period right now, we are trying to explain why someone should want to be a member,” Davis said.
Nance Daniels, president of AAAC, said she is so grateful to have Davis on board.
“Michelle demonstrates her dedication to promoting the arts in the Athens community by collaboration, determination, discipline and diligence,” Daniels said.