By Megan Northcote
Feb. 4, 2013. Miracle Smith, president of International Music Coalition Inc. (IMC), has never let anything stand in the way of her lifelong passion and vision – changing the world with music.
In 2007, with limited funds and supporters, she launched IMC, an online radio and television show, showcasing the talent of independent musicians worldwide.
Over the last three months, IMC has seen a 500 percent increase in internet traffic. As of January 19, over the last three weeks, the fan base has doubled from followers in 40 to 80 different countries.
Yet, achieving her vision would not have been possible, Smith said, without the hard work of a group of Appalachian State University interns.
Smith has devoted her entire life to music, becoming a classically trained singer at age eight. After graduating college, she opened Haven Voice Studios in Cary, N.C. to train gifted singers in every genre from gospel to rock.
Yet, she soon discovered her vision went much deeper than helping a handful of local, talented singers improve vocally; she wanted to promote independent musicians’ work worldwide.
That’s when she developed her idea for IMC.
Smith explains the long-term goals of IMC as twofold: 1) give unsigned or independently signed musicians the chance to be seen and heard worldwide on TV and radio without having to compete with the mainstream music industry and 2) redistribute the power and wealth generated by the music industry equally to all musicians.
The music featured on both the radio and TV, although predominantly Indie music, covers all genres from bluegrass to Korean to rap to gospel.
Smith, who is fluent in Spanish and currently studies Korean and Farsi (a Persian language), said she takes the international focus of her organization very seriously.
“Humans should accept and appreciate human diversity and learn to love and welcome music from all over the world,” Smith said.
Yet, as Smith soon discovered, achieving such an ambitious goal demanded more than optimistic thinking, but also funding and a network of individuals who shared her same vision.
After spending three frustrating years working diligently to persuade federal agencies, such as the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to fund IMC without charging the musicians, Smith decided to rely on the generosity of local business donations and her personal savings to turn her dream into a reality.
Between 2007 and 2011, Smith launched IMC three different times, each time designing her own website, and each time reluctantly shutting down the site as the number of CDs she received from international artists grew too voluminous for her to handle on her own.
That’s when she said God directed her to contact local universities, asking for local interns to shape and direct her vision into the organization she imagined.
Of all the universities she approached, Smiths said Appalachian State University was the only one who offered their support.
In the fall of 2011, Pam Brewer, assistant English professor, listed the IMC as one of the organizations with which her students could chose to partner to complete a client project for their senior seminar professional writing class.
This project was intended to simulate a professional working world scenario, Brewer said, where the student negotiates with a client in a technical communication setting how their own skills and interests can best serve the needs of the client.
To Smith’s pleasant surprise, a group of seven students ultimately chose to work with IMC.
“Because these interns chose me and my organization, right away, I knew we had the right kind of energy,” Smith said.
Smith allowed each intern to work as independent project managers, gaining hands-on experience with multimedia communication, professional and creative writing, graphic design and even music composition skills to redesign the IMC website, making it easier for the public to access, navigate and understand IMC’s vision.
“I told each of them it was their right and responsibility to tell me if something about the website didn’t make sense,” Smith said. “Over half the time, their constructive criticism was actually something I needed to change. In fact, as a group, they came to me and told me I needed to redo the website.”
Remarkably, the interns never once met Smith in person, until an end of semester presentation, instead holding weekly Skype meetings and online discussion board chats.
“Virtual work teams are very common in the workplace today,” Brewer said. “Even online, Miracle is a wonderful communicator and her level of ethics is phenomenal.”
One of these interns from Brewer’s class, Chanequia Turner, whom Smith aptly described as a “creative bone,” shared Smith’s lifelong passion for music. Turner served as Artist Liaison, communicating with the musicians and performing the initial screening to decide which artists’ music best fit IMC’s guidelines to appear on the radio and TV.
In addition, Turner tirelessly wrote content for the website, scripted a YouTube commercial about IMC, wrote press releases and connected with social media networks to promote the organization.
“She really took me under her wing and taught me how to do so much, even how to write a business plan and design a website,” Turner said, who feels the experience and skills she gained from IMC have prepared her to pursue an MFA in creative writing next fall.
Another intern, Brittany Dunton, a former music composition major at ASU, heard about IMC and, like Turner, felt an instant connection with Smith and her vision.
“I really enjoyed the creative liberty Miracle gave us,” Dunton said. “She really knew how to be in charge of a creative environment without telling us what to do.”
Dunton composed all of the music accompanying a series of presentations or promotional videos, which explained the benefits of IMC to different target audiences, including artists, churches and potential interns.
“Before IMC, I mainly wrote music for individuals, so it was great to be part of a team to write music for a greater cause,” Dunton said. “I got to see how my piece of the puzzle shaped the bigger picture.”
Dunton’s experience with IMC encouraged her to follow her own dreams; she now attends graduate school at Columbia College Chicago where she studies film scoring and hopes to one day move to Los Angeles to write soundtracks for movies.
With her interns’ inspiration and guidance, Smith hopes to expand IMC services to include multiple TV and radio stations for different music genres and to even produce an Indie music magazine.
“I am so indebted to my interns,” Smith said. “Don’t underestimate young people, they can really surprise you.”
Visit http://imcstage.com/ to listen to IMC’s online radio and TV show.