Using New Technology to Solve Old Problems
LOS ANGELES – Does technology make it easier for talent to rise to the top?
Twelve diverse bands and artists from Southern California are testing that idea by showcasing their music on the Band Together: To Fight Measles compilation album. The album was recorded by the artists, launched on iTunes in late December, and has been discovered almost entirely through viral e-mails.
With album sales, they hope to raise funds to vaccinate 10,000 children through the Measles Initiative, a project spearheaded by the American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and WHO. Each purchase of the album can vaccinate seven children in the developing world from a disease that killed an estimated 242,000 people in 2006 alone.
“Recent technology allows the artists to rely on their talent instead of an expensive marketing campaign,” according to album organizer Mat Morgan. “On iTunes, you can sample songs before you buy them. It’s easy to advertise great music to your friends through e-mail, Facebook and MySpace with just a few clicks.”
Take the example of contributor Kina Grannis, who has caught fire in the blogosphere and topped websites Youtube, Digg and thesixtyone with her original material. Her internet-driven popularity has propelled her to the final stage of the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest on MySpace, which would land her a sixty-second spot during the Super Bowl and a recording contract with Interscope Records.
Artists that contributed tracks to the album also have a number of accolades from the “real world” to catch the eyes of web surfers. For example, Relax to Paris frontman Ryan Gelber won the international John Lennon Songwriting Contest; R&B singer Elle B. sang on Fox 11’s Good Day L.A.; and Michael Mazochi earned Folk Album of the Year honors from the LA Music Awards.
Cheaper software and hardware allow for local music production of audiophile quality.
Mazochi writes, produces, engineers, and plays several instruments in a cabin outside the Angeles National Forest with the aid of a $150 Behringer B-2 microphone and a $100 Behringer mixing board.
“I literally learned by process of trial and error. I never read a book on the subject, I never consulted a professional… bit by bit you just get better at recording in the same way that you get better at writing and playing. It’s all a learning process. Mixing is about the ears of the person on the controls. Money can’t buy that.”
The combination has been potent. According to Morgan, “people from all corners of the US have emailed to discuss the album and offer to spread the word to their schools, clubs, friends and family. It is pretty humbling.”
To purchase or gift the CD, search for Band Together: To Fight Measles in the iTunes Store. Fans can forward their album receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win a phone call from their favorite artist from the CD.
Fans can also visit the Band Together page at www.myspace.com/bandtogetherbenefitcd, or individual artist pages www.myspace.com/kinagrannis, and www.myspace.com/michaelmazochi to explore their music. Grannis will be competing in the Doritos contest until late January. Mazochi’s latest album, Volume One: Until My Teeth Turn Into Sand, is available for purchase beginning January 13th. He plans to release two additional CDs in 2008.
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For more information about Band Together: To Fight Measles contact Mat at email@example.com.
The Measles Initiative is a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally. Launched in 2001, the Initiative— led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, UNICEF and WHO—provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns. Because of vaccination efforts, deaths from measles have fallen 68 percent worldwide – from an estimated 757,000 per year to 242,000 per year. To learn more, visit www.measlesinitiative.org.