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Powerful combination: How to mix music and philanthropy

Event Tips >

You can make a positive impact on the world through your events. We were lucky enough at SXSW to ask three music industry insiders how emerging musicians can create change. Their insights apply not only to bands and solo artists growing their careers, but to all of us that hold or organize events. You have a stage. Here’s how to use it for good:

Size doesn’t matter.

Of your audience, that is. As long as you have one fan, you have one person you can impact. Mike Martinovich, manager for My Morning Jacket and Flight of the Concords had this to say, “It doesn’t matter if you’re playing pubs, or an arena, you can make a difference. Collect emails. Collect a donation at the door. Tweet. The earlier musicians do it, the sooner it becomes institutionalized within themselves and their fans.”

Erin Potts, Executive Director at Air Traffic Control Education Fund agreed. “Musicians have historically been important allies in social justice… music helps people feel personally connected to issues. Musicians have incredible reach. Even small, beginning artists have email or social media lists larger than most non-profits.”

Respect your authority!

As an entertainer, you hold the great ability to reach and influence others on a very personal level. Andy Bernstein of HeadCount (which promotes such established groups as Pearl Jam, Phish, Death Cab for Cutie, and Dave Matthew’s Band) explains, “Social currency is everything. Musicians have the power to bring issues to the forefront with their social currency.”

Tip: You can watch Andy tell exactly how he helps artists make an impact in this video.

Follow up after the show.

Using your stage to speak about issues that matter to you is a great starting point. Take it to the next level by continuing the conversation after the show.

Arcade Fire’s Marika Anthony-Shaw told us about her band’s efforts to raise awareness about issues plaguing Haiti beyond mentions at the concerts. “We were wondering how we could start a conversation with our fans,” she said. “So we had sign-up sheets at shows and we trained volunteers at all our shows in social justice and human rights. The ripple effect has been incredible since starting that conversation five years ago. We now have 10,000 volunteers who start those conversations. Now we hear back from fans who run marathons and have fundraisers at schools to donate to Haiti. It’s become something beyond fan and band that we’re all connected to.”

Marika suggested that musicians choose something easy and small that they can keep doing. Consistency grows your impact. Make the decision as a group on what to support, knowing this is something you may never stop doing.

Get started now!

Here’s a list of things you can do RIGHT NOW to start making an impact:

Add a dollar per ticket to donate directly to a cause you care about.

* Talk about your cause from the stage.

* Set out a clipboard at events to collect the emails of those interested in your cause. (Remember to follow up after the show)

* Choose something easy and small that you can keep doing. Make the decision as a group, something you do and never stop doing.

* Mention your cause on your website, Facebook and Twitter.

* While touring or staying in your hometown, invite local charity groups to your show. Plant seeds. Give them tickets. Develop relationships.

* Volunteer once a week, or once a month, as a group. Not only will fans seeing you doing good in the community, but the connections you make might surprise you. You may end up meeting your next tour manager.

* During one song, ask the audience to throw paper money at you as a donation to your cause.

Want more ideas on how to use your events as a platform for positive change? Call our Event Promotions department at

(800) 838-3006 (Option 5)or email your questions to Completely free to you, we’re here to talk through your specific event challenges and come up with wickedly-good plans. We love to help! Give us a call today.

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