A Music Industry Call To Protect Democracy, Get Out The Vote
In this op-ed Stephen Love introduces us to Socially Driven Music, a social and political organization aimed at harnessing the power of the music industry to protect democracy and encourage voter participation.
Op-ed by Stephen (Steve) Love of Socially Driven Music
Where is the music industry as the country teeters on the brink of a possible Trump second term that would indelibly transition America into an unrecognizable society antithetical to the foundation and morality that the generations who came before us (especially “The Greatest Generation”) sacrificed blood and treasure to protect, advance and improve? Silence is complicity. Democracy can be fragile, is not pre-ordained, and requires dedication to preserve. Click on the essay immediately below for a factual reminder of some of Trump’s divisive, incompetent and unconscionable actions:
Socially Driven Music began as a plan to guide music creators in improving their livelihoods while intersecting with and championing social causes. We quickly recognized that this is best made possible by influencing the politics integral to it all. We’re now turning our attention to the election and are positioned to help energize voter turnout nationally and in targeted locations down ballot. SDM is a clarion call and bridge that connects grassroots groups with passionate artists with shared values. We are a non-partisan company, albeit appalled by Trump and determined to help restore the “Soul of America.”
How can we allow ourselves to succumb to a helpless inevitability that Trump, a dim-witted, bloviating, self-serving, racist, misogynistic, narcissistic, xenophobic, sociopathic pathological liar and wannabe authoritarian, will be re-elected and allowed to fundamentally change the United States? And what about Trump’s puppeteer enablers (McConnell, Graham, et al) and obsequious sycophants (Jordan, Nunes, Scalise, et al) who’ve earned their own defeat?
It’s disheartening and very troubling to think that approximately 34% of the country might support someone who demonstrably abhors them and whose actions are constantly contrary to the very tenets embraced by his evangelical followers? It’s inconceivable and reprehensible that they don’t dismiss an alternate reality where up is down, night is day and wrong is right. Why do they chose to ignore facts (including the fact that fewer Americans would have died had Trump embraced scientific COVID-19 advice) and adhere to this clownish, provocateur, and the dangerous, misinformation, echo chamber business model of Fox News, Limbaugh, et al (actual fake news)? Why dismiss the award-winning information exposed and admonitions expressed by the New York Times, Axios, Daily Beast, Washington Post, Politico, The Atlantic, etc., (who at least try to get it right) and written about in so many publications by renowned authors like Bob Woodward and insiders like John Bolton and Mary Trump, among many others? How about believing nonpartisan, established trustworthy fact checkers like Politifacts and FactCheck.org (a project of the Annenberg Foundation)?
At a time when socially and politically conscious music is at least as relevant as it was in the 60’s and 70’s, we’re hearing repetitious productions, versus inspired songs, about nothing — in the midst of crisis after crisis.
Itcouldn’t be that today’s tired and vacuous excuses for pop music, such as the unimaginative, shameless play for attention that is Cardi B’s and Megan Thee Stallion’s (slang notwithstanding, does she know what a real stallion is?) adolescent “WAP,” have left no room for quality pop songs and meaningful rock — music that motivates listeners to think about how we might introspect towards joining together for a better quality of life. It’s not shocking in 2020 to hear explicit language in hip-hop (or in other genres) and to see corresponding attempts at provocative videos, and this record/video is simply a boring escalation in a race to be the most outrageous. In fact, it’s a reflection of a permissively vulgar political climate creeping into pop culture. It is insulting and condescending to consider this distraction as anything but a Trumpian-style juvenile spectacle which any aspiring kid musician out there would have had the good sense to discard as unworthy of anyone’s ears. Its chart success will be as transient as any novelty record before it. Wouldn’t Cardi and Megan have been better served personally and professionally as role models singing/rapping about ways to overcome any number of problems facing their adolescent audiences and the rest of us?
Where are the socially poignant songs and videos that can energize us and call us to action, to motivate us to activism? Is it because artists and songwriters believe that they are no longer relevant and there is no significant platform for new music from them in the age of Spotify and streaming music? This would be fallcious thinking. In fact, there are legions of listeners who are disenfranchised by the mostly pablum being released currently. It’s either simple and offensive for the sake of offending, or what used to be called Bubblegum music, such as Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar.” The industry is always renewed and reinvented from the outside (independent artists) in a creative drought such as now. Now is the inflection point for a paradigm shift and a renaissance of thought provoking music.
Bereminded of the socially poignant music that motivated us in the past and is still relevant (check out all 92 songs on the complete Spotify playlist!):
And be introduced to another Jimmy Webb masterpiece that reminds us to be kind at a time of overwhelming despair and insecurity (performed by Jimmy and the incomparable Thelma Houston, accompanied by a school choir) that’s just been released:
There is no dearth of material to write and sing about. One such starting point may be joining us in caring about the destruction of the U.S. Postal Service, a violation of a centuries old public service, and of the heroes who continue to bring us our mail each day despite COVID-19. We must stop Trump’s attempt to disable the Post Office to interfere with mail-in ballots and the election (unintentionally affecting essential other mail), and his push to ultimately privatize the USPS for the financial benefit of his cronies. Please see the Socially Driven Music U.S. Postal Service campaign on Causes.com.
Socially Driven Music (SDM) was created to improve the livelihoods of music artists and songwriters by connecting them and their fan bases to social causes, hyper-locally (see a list of causes on the dropdown menu of our landing page). #MusicThatMatters #MusicPurpose.
Frustrated that your voice isn’t being heard? We can amplify it! Music Artists and Songwriters (legacy and emerging) join with each other, industry mentors, causes, political campaigns, and fans in innovative strategies for positive change. SDM is the music industry’s de facto advocacy/activism group. We increase music revenue through altruism and, by extension, the encouragement of a return to the tradition of socially poignant music in this divisive current climate.
SDM is the first to encourage local artists to volunteer as poll workers to incentivize voter turnout (we’ll help organize Zoom and other virtual conferences if COVID-19 precludes usual physical voting in some areas). Socially Driven Music invites local artists and songwriters around the country to join us by signing up using the link immediately above. We will then reach out to established artists in or near your zip code to participate alongside you. SuperFans of local talent become the connection between the musicians and local social impact issues and other fans for the reciprocal benefit of all.
In addition to Power The Polls, we have partnered with several other get out the vote organizations, including Headcount and When We All Vote, as well as two PAC’s. We’re proud to help recruit a new generation of poll workers this November. Learn how you can help ensure a safe and fair election in YOUR community:
Ifyou are a local music artist or songwriter with a fan base who is interested in visiting or working at a polling place (for however long you wish) or would like more information about virtual interaction to motivate voter turnout, please contact us at http://bit.ly/SDMMailChimp or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or on Slack at https://bit.ly/Socially-Driven-Music-Slack-Invite
Finally, we’d like to know about your favorite social impact new music. Add to our list on our Facebook Group Page.
PS: For those music business executives wanting a roadmap to the future of the industry, here are some of the reasons you need to talk to Socially Driven Music: