The Activist's Soundtrack(Archive)
The beginning of 2002 has seen the development of a number of unique initiatives at the crossroads of music and activism–from creative ways to bring environmental activism to fans, to using corporate sponsorship to hold companies accountable.
New Power Project RevisitedAs we reported in Investing For A Better World last fall, Trillium Asset Management worked with Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys to pull together a coalition of musicians called the New Power Project (NPP). NPP was formed to support the Save Our Environment Action Center, a coalition of the nation’s most influential environmental advocacy groups, and its efforts to defeat the shortsighted energy bill proposed by the Bush administration. The coalition drew quite a bit of attention with feature articles in the New York Times, Rolling Stone and a host of other publications.
Unfortunately, the Administration’s bill was passed by the Republican-dominated House of Representatives at the end of the summer and is headed for debate in the Senate. Reacting to the legislation, Diamond said, “Drilling in our last wild places like the Arctic Refuge? Risking Three Mile Islands with more nuclear power? That thinking is as old as fossil fuels. We would all benefit from a plan inclusive of environmental conservation, fuel efficiency and alternative energy sources.”
This time around, Trillium Asset Management and Diamond have brought artists Kevin Richardson (of the Backstreet Boys), REM, the Roots and Live into the NPP fold, joining existing members the Beastie Boys, Barenaked Ladies, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveler, Moby, Trey Anastasio (from Phish), Jackson Browne, Alanis Morissette, James Taylor and others. The musicians will mobilize their fans by encouraging them to visit the www.saveourenvironment.org/newpower site where they can send a free fax to their senators about the plan.
Dave Matthews Band meets Ben and JerryMore than the flavor of the month, One Sweet Whirled is the new Ben & Jerry’s flavor and a play on the Dave Matthews Band song “One Sweet World” from the group’s 1993 album, Remember Two Things. In a cause-marketing campaign bringing together the aforementioned Save Our Environment coalition, Ben & Jerry’s, and the Dave Matthews Band, the three will team to promote a campaign aimed at fighting Global Warming.
The campaign, which will include promotional booths on the Dave Matthews Band tour during the spring and summer, will highlight simple, everyday steps people can take to lower their carbon emissions. Ben & Jerry’s Chief Marketing Officer Walt Freese noted, “We feel that this type of values-led, action-oriented program represents a cool new way to do some good.”
One Sweet Whirled is already available at Ben & Jerry’s Scoops Shops nationwide, and will be shipping in pints to stores by late February. Keep an eye out for developments at the website: www.onesweetwhirled.org, or www.benjerry.com.
Chumbawamba Uses Robin Hood Tactics in GM Sponsorship DealRecently, the famously irreverent Brit punks with pop appeal, Chumbawamba, were asked if General Motors could use the song “Pass It Along,” from their recent album, Wysiwyg, in a commercial for GM’s Pontiac line of cars. The song, which is an anthem for free music on the internet, captures the gritty and dissident sound of youth, the target audience for this particular ad campaign.
After some internal debate, Chumbawamba agreed, but there was a catch. They turned around and distributed the $100,000 licensing fee they received for the commercial to two non-profit organizations campaigning for corporate accountability, CorpWatch and IndyMedia. CorpWatch will use the money to document GM’s social and environmental impacts.
A growing number of artists facing sponsorship choices are making similar decisions. For the past several years, Trillium Asset Management has been helping artists view sponsorship as an opportunity for leverage on corporations and their policies, internally and externally. Our hope is that in time, most artists will, like Chumbawamba, bring issues of corporate social responsibility into their deliberations of corporate entertainment sponsorship.