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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Rival FM more about creation than competition

Adam DeMarie and Mark Zbikowski work together at a technology field for a company downtown. By day, they sit in offices like thousands of other adults in Milwaukee. At night, they tend to Rival FM, a songwriting and recording competition.

“I’ve been into two things much of my life: computers and music,” Zbikowski said.

This Sunday, April 1, the duo will introduce Rival FM to Milwaukee at the Riverwest Public House, offering an exciting new twist to the battle of the bands model and a chance for participants to find a fresh community of musicians and music enthusiasts.

The basic premise of Rival FM is based on an idea from two other Wisconsin natives – Dan Harmon, the Milwaukee-born creator and executive producer for the NBC television comedy series “Community,” and Rob Schrab, the Mayville-native known for writing the comic book series “Scud: The Disposable Assassin” and co-writing the feature film “Monster House.”

Harmon and Schrab created Channel 101, a monthly film festival in Los Angeles and New York City. Filmmakers submit five-minute shorts for a panel of previously submitted participants, who then choose which films a live audience gets to see and vote on.

Replace film with music, and you have the basic premise for Rival FM.

“We wanted to do something similar to that,” Zbikowski said. “We wanted to meet more people interested in music.”

For the first performance, Zbikowski and DeMarie choose the singles that audiences will hear on Sunday. Artists submit their original music to the Rival FM website before the set deadline each month (extended to Saturday, March 31 for the upcoming show).

After the first performance, the fan favorites choose their top five picks to continue on to next month and become the selection panel. The winning artists submit five songs, as well as select five new songs for next month’s competition. The favorites are also posted on Rival FM’s website for more fans to discover.

“We want it to serve as a motivation for people to produce music,” DeMarie said. “We’re hoping communities of artists come from this.”

There’s no cash prize or extravagant exposure that comes with entering Rival FM’s monthly competitions, but Zbikowski and DeMarie hope people come for the bigger picture.

“The reward is really playing the music,” Zbikowski said. “If money entered the situation, it would make things more competitive but not in a friendly way.”

Rival FM’s goal is to encourage creativity and constructive feedback for serious and occasional musicians. The few rules open it up for artists of any age, genre and skill level – the intent is for the event to be as inclusive as possible.

There is no entry fee to submit music to Rival FM, nor is there an admission cost for audience members. Keeping things free, Zbikowski and DeMarie said, is designed to create a welcoming culture and responsive atmosphere for fans and artists alike.

“We wanted to stay pure,” DeMarie said. “It’s all about the idea of people getting together to share ideas and experience new things.”

With any new concept, the first go-around can be unpredictable. No matter how the upcoming April 1 show goes, Zbikowski and DeMarie are optimistic about the potential of Rival FM.

“This is a new idea, so we’re open to input and suggestions,” DeMarie said. “There are things that might not go well, but we want to create something that people will like.”

Rival FM’s first show will be Sunday, April 1 at 7p.m. at the Riverwest Public House, 815 E Locust St. The event is free. To learn more, or to submit an entry, go to

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