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Winona promotion company looking to create one-stop shop for artists

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Left to right, Blake Mullen, Nathaniel Nelson, Drew Stender and Tyler Steinley have a meeting for Treedome on Monday evening along with Michael Pelley and Andy Bauer, not pictured, at the Treedome, in the Mid West Music Store building in downtown Winona.

A Winona startup is trying to be the one-stop shop for all things music and promotion.

Treedome Productions has moved quickly since being officially founded in the fall of 2016, and following winning one of the first WSU WarriorsINNOVATE Challenge grant, the company established itself in the back area of Mid West Music Store in downtown Winona.

Blake Mullen, Treedome president, said that despite spending the year establishing the physical workspace, creating a company and finding investors, the group already been making significant headway in uniting the “vast artistic market in Winona and the surrounding area.”

“It’s centered around empowering individuals to do what they couldn’t do themselves,” Mullen said.

That includes music recording, video production, design and promotion with a core team of six people.

Since last fall, Treedome has been involved in Mid West Music Fest and Bonfire Music Festival, recorded and released five EPs and three LPs through the studio, and assisted in coordinating a Midwestern tour for three separate bands.

The artists and groups, for the most part, have been wide ranging in taste but are usually up and coming, working with a smaller market and budget with an eye toward growth.

Mullen said that creating connections between the groups and venues, or helping them promote, is a mainstay of Treedome’s mission.

“I’ve witnessed different people already being provided with opportunities through our company,” Mullen said.

They’re also looking to fill gaps in Winona’s artistic economy.

Nathaniel Nelson, creative director and one of Treedome’s two vice presidents, said it has been able to help provide local services in design and video that weren’t there before.

Nelson said he primarily works guiding the aesthetic of the group, and working with the design and music video production for customers, a need for which he said hadn’t been tapped in Winona.

“Our creative film scene is still pretty lacking,” Nelson said.

He agreed that the wider goals of Treedome include more than just the individual groups or artists, and more about creating a viable community for groups to develop in and find support.

“We have such a huge arts culture ... and there is kind of a shared feeling,” Nelson said. “We kind of want to encapsulate that.”

Despite the seemingly wide range of goals and services Treedome is working on, it is still looking forward.

After receiving the $5,000 award from WSU, the group has participated in other entrepreneurial competitions for grant money, including in the Southeast Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s Entrepreneurial Bridge Student Business Plan competition, where it came in third.

Mullen said he and his partners quickly realized they needed to think bigger.

During their earlier development they had established an ideal market of about 70 miles, looking at the number of musical events, artists and how they could target different needs.

Mullen said the next step will be widening the promotional and production capabilities and continuing to work on ways to pitch the business to investors and contests.

As that continues to grow, Mullen said Treedome is still concentrating on the area, growing the arts scene here and creating more opportunities for themselves and others.

“We’re artists from the beginning,” Mullen said.


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