"We are a collaborative species. 'Putting our heads together' has literally gotten us from the shores of the primordial ooze onto the surface of distant planets. So when two big, stinky rock bands combine their efforts for a larger purpose it's only going to garnish a larger outcome than either one could achieve on their own." -- Brandon Boyd
We are all connected -- to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, to the rest of the universe atomically.
No matter how you perceive it, it's true. We feel it in our hearts and we know it in our minds, yet we behave as if it's you or I. There is no we.
You'll have to excuse me, though -- I'm still coming down from Burning Man. My default-world verbiage hasn't quite fallen back in line.
I recently watched Incubus and Linkin Park play for 25,000 people in Los Angeles. Two of the biggest bands in rock radio for more than a decade teamed up for about a dozen and a half dates in what became the No. 1 tour of the summer.
There's something about the way being part of a crowd creates an energy. We re-discover a sense of meaning as we connect to something larger than ourselves, however fleeting.
Yes, music transcends. But to quantify how powerful 12 notes can be, think about this:
Linkin Park and Incubus have a combined reach of more than 50 million on Facebook, 2 million on Twitter and during this quick Honda Civic Tour they performed for hundreds of thousands of adoring fans in a matter of weeks.
It's this combination of the intangible and the measurable that provides my thesis that music is one of the greatest vehicles we have for real social change.
More than $350,000 was raised for charity on the Linkubus tour, and it wasn't really all that difficult.
What it demonstrates is that if we really want to move the needle, we need to properly leverage the collective reach of multiple artists.
"Whenever people come together to combine their efforts the result is an exponentially greater impact. I believe this is true for artists working to support a cause primarily because of the power of our fans. Our voices are louder and our strength is greater when we team up with artists like Incubus for the Honda Civic Tour, and when our fans join us, the results are incredible," Linkin Park bass player Dave "Phoenix" Farrell explained in an email.
Let's back up for a second. I should point out that both bands have their own nonprofit.
Nine years ago, Incubus started The Make Yourself Foundation and since has made it into a nightly pre-show ritual to do a meet and greet with fans who have won VIP packages on eBay -- all proceeds benefiting MYF.
In addition, memorabilia auctions, a bootleg series and donations from fans have all been drivers for the foundation's fundraising. To date, MYF has raised around $1.5 million and provided grants to more than 60 nonprofit organizations.
Linkin Park created Music For Relief, dedicated to disaster relief and combatting climate change, MFR was initially in response to the tsunami in Indonesia and has gone on to create some truly amazing and collaborative campaigns.
"Linkin Park founded Music for Relief with the mission of bringing the music community together to make a greater impact for those in need, so we invite other artists to participate in all our initiatives," Farrell said.
"We are grateful for contributions from artists like K'Naan who spearheaded I AM A STAR for Somalia with MFR last fall to bring aid to children suffering in the East Africa hunger crisis. Many other artists like Enrique Iglesias, Jack Johnson, Alanis Morissette, Weezer and Ben Folds have donated previously unreleased songs for our Download to Donate compilations benefitting earthquake survivors in Haiti and tsunami survivors in Japan. Since the organization began in 2005, other artists have performed with us to support disaster relief efforts or volunteered their time to build homes as a part of our work with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans and Los Angeles."
In November 2011, Music For Relief launched Power The World in support of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's Sustainable Energy For All Initiative.
The site serves as an online destination for information about energy access and sustainable energy solutions.
In the spirit of collaboration, Incubus and The Make Yourself Foundation made a decision to support Power The World during the tour.
"MYF has been working away since 2003 and it's been a real pleasure doing so. But it was great joining forces with Music For Relief and really getting the sense that we had extended our reach," Boyd noted.
As fans entered the venue they could visit the Power the World booth, where fans could see innovative solar tools like the WE CARE Solar Suitcase, a clean cookstove, Nokero solar lights, and learn more about Sustainable Energy For All.
A dollar-fifty from every ticket sale went to MYF and MFR, and in addition The Honda Civic Tour opened its doors to a few other nonprofits:
HeadCount -- A non-partisan voter registration group that you'll see at many tours and festivals. Volunteers managed to register 384 new voters in the 10 dates they accompanied the tour.
Love Hope Strength -- A music-centric cancer charity whose "Get On The List" campaign swabs the cheeks of concert goers for the bone marrow registry's database. They acquired 561 new registrations on The Honda Civic Tour.
Reverb -- The tour's nonprofit "greening" partner. Reverb handled recycling both backstage and in front of house, coordinated more eco-minded choices on tour busses, they also will be calculating and facilitating offsets for the emissions produced on the tour. Reverb facilitated a partnership with Brita/Haws for a donation of fresh water stations at every show so that fans could fill up reusable water bottles (sold to benefit MFR) and use less plastic. They also encouraged ridesharing among fans.
Also of note, Linkin Park's tour crew coordinated bio-diesel for all trucks and busses that were capable of running on it.
We'd like to recognize other partners including eBay, Charity Buzz, Kompolt and Tickets for Charity who helped the nonprofit efforts. A big personal thank you to Whitney Showler from Music for Relief for leading this charge and Justin Wysong from the MYF team.
I encourage everyone to learn more in the video below and support the goal of gaining 1 million signatures on a pledge for Sustainable Energy for All. You can sign the pledge here.
Activities like this have introduced tens of millions of people to the issue of energy access and sustainable solutions, so why don't we see this kind of collaboration more often? We will.
As Brandon Boyd puts it, "We've certainly come a long way! But we've got a long way to go."
All photos: Justin Wysong
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