Growing Indy’s Music Scene: Interview with Josh Baker of MOKB Presents
If you’ve ever been to a show in Indianapolis, chances are that Josh Baker was the man who booked it. As the main showrunner for the event promotion team MOKB Presents, founder of the Indy event guide Do317 Media, and the president of the prominent Indy venue HI-FI, Baker has been building a small music empire for Indiana residents to enjoy. Prism President and Co-Founder Steve Sternschein recently invited Baker for a conversation about how he has managed to grow HI-FI into a venue that hosts 300 shows per year, how he started his own music festival, and how he has influenced the Indy music scene.
When Baker and Craig “Dodge” Lile founded MOKB Presents, it was born out of a desire to end Indianapolis’s reputation as a city that was consistently skipped on national tours.
“I met Dodge and I asked him to help me with a panel at this conference I was doing called Midwest Music Summit, and he put together a panel of all these publicists and people from the blog world,” said Baker. “Next thing you know we realize that we were both driving to shows in other markets to go see bands play… We just came back one day we were like ‘fuck this, let’s just start throwing shows.’”
After a few years, MOKB Presents were selling out shows every week by booking bands like Alabama Shakes and The Lumineers and needed a bigger venue. That’s when they bought HI-FI, a 200 capacity bar, to start promoting their events. In 2017, MOKB Presents outgrew their space once again and expanded the HI-FI into the 500 capacity room it is known as today.
Having built relationships with his favorite artists over the years, Baker wanted to create a new experience with Holler on the Hill, a two-day boutique music festival held in Garfield Park. Baker discussed the problems he faces as a festival organizer, such as trying to book bands that aren’t already playing festivals from nearby markets such as Chicago and Cincinnati, and how working with Prism has helped MOKB Presents cut down on the time that could be spent booking even better events.
“[Prism is] fantastic. I kind of wonder what I did without it now that I have it,” said Baker. “We have a weekly Tuesday meeting. We all go down the list and look at the health of the shows in Prism and see how they’re performing. It’s hours upon hours upon hours of time saved every week.”
Watch the full interview with Josh Baker below.