Music and philanthropy have gone hand-in-hand for decades, both in large capacities such as Live Aid or smaller events such as a performance at your local church or hospital. EDM has been a phenomenal platform for helping those in need due to its size and profitability, and there have been an incredible number of producers and djs that have used their popularity to benefit those in need. From Avicii's work with House for Hunger to David Guetta's work with United Nations, we've compiled a list of 11 DJs who are putting in the most time working with charities. Their influence from volunteering for various causes, donating and raising money, putting on relief concerts, and even starting their own foundations, has had a monumental effect on the rest of the world, and we applaud them for being leaders in our community.
1. Steve Aoki
When he’s not out throwing cakes at fans, or whipping up banging electro-house in the studio, you can find American producer Steve Aoki rolling up his sleeves for charity. According to the DJ, his philanthropic work gives him just as much satisfaction as his music career. “I’ve been involved with many charities and non-profit organizations throughout my career,” he explained, “I always take the time to give back and volunteer when I can.” Last year, this culminated in Aoki’s charitable fund making donations of over $65,000 to four health and research organizations: the Brain Preservation Foundation, the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Memory Care Program, the American Brain Foundation, and Infusio. As he explained, “these four organizations represent the best in what they do, and I’m stoked to be working with them.” The news came after the superstar pledged to donate one dollar from every ticket sold on his massive Aokify America tour, which tore up venues all across the US & Canada last year. For more information on the Steve Aoki Charitable Fund, head over to SteveAokiFund.com.
Ever since Avicii’s single ‘Seek Bromance’ dropped in 2010, it was clear he had a bright future ahead of him, and when ‘Levels’ followed in 2011, the young Swede went on a whirlwind run to the top. Despite his huge commercial success, Avicii has remained humble and down-to-earth, and in 2011, he began working with his manager and executive producer Ash Pournouri to kick off House for Hunger, a charity dedicated to abolishing world hunger. “You have to give something back,” he explained, “I am so fortunate to be in the position where I can actually do that. I feel lucky every day when I wake up and am able to do what I love and make a living.” Since its inception, the organization has built a solid portfolio of work, donating $1 million to Feeding America and helping fund The Feed Foundation, resulting in over two million meals distributed to schools throughout Africa. Not bad for just a few years work.
Dubstep producer Lorin Ashton has been a mainstay in EDM for a number of years, with his career stretching back as far as 1993. During this time, the bass DJ has spent countless hours working on a number of charitable causes. Ashton has been an advocate for the Conscious Alliance for a number of years, assisting them with their mission to feed the hungry through grassroots food collection and hunger awareness programs. In 2011, Bassnectar launched his “Dollar Per Basshead” campaign, donating $1 for every ticket sold on his tour to three charities - Alternet, Free Press organization, and Reach Out. This amounted to a whopping $250,000, and the program continued into 2012 and 2013, which saw over $100,000 donated each year to a series of progressive organizations, non-profits and charities. Let’s hope it keeps running in the years to come.
Tiësto’s engagement with charity kicked off over a decade ago, and in 2006, he was named the official worldwide ambassador for Dance4Life, a foundation promoting AIDS awareness. During this time, he recorded a track with Maxi Jazz, which stormed charts around the world and helped raise over $300,000 for the organization. Later, in 2012, the producer released a compilation album Dance (RED) Save Lives, a collaboration with Product Red, donating proceeds to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The effort was in support of World AIDS day - as Tijs explained, “I was looking for a great charity, and I heard about (RED) and since then we've been in touch… this is a huge professional organization that makes a huge impact, so for me it's a no-brainer to be involved. I want to make a huge impact and really help the world, too.”
5. Steve Angello
Swedish DJ Steve Angello may have split up with super group trio Swedish House Mafia last year, but he’s still going stronger than ever - both in the dance music arena, and outside of it. One of his biggest engagements away from EDM is his charity work. In 2003, Angello launched his iconic label Size Records, and he later appropriated the name for his current charity, Size Foundation. As their website explains, the foundation’s mission “supports solutions that 'teach a man to fish.' Our work primarily focuses on education as the means to empower children and young adults so they can take ownership of their lives.” According to the DJ, his motivations to start his own charity were forged when he became a father. “I realized that there’s a lot of kids out there that don’t have the support and the funding to get through life in a nice way,” he explained, “it’s important to me that they’re in good hands.” Get across to sizefoundation.com for more information or to get involved.
Moby has long been an advocate for the Humane Society, an organization committed to stopping cruelty to animals. His website MobyGratis.com licences music to films and produces revenue for the society, helping them achieve their goals. He’s managed to combine his love of music and his charity work, too: Moby has spent a number of years working for the Institute of Music and Neurological Function, a group dedicated to developing medical treatments by looking at how music affects the brain. Over the years, Moby has put together a number of charity concerts to raise awareness and funds for the institute. In 2004, IMNF awarded him with the Music Has Power Award - and over the last decade, he’s continued to use that power to help people and animals all over the world.
Since his humble beginnings as a minimal techno producer, Swiss DJ Luciano has become a mainstay superstar, evolving his music into a famous brand of house and techno, accruing over a million Facebook fans while he was at it. As far as his career has taken him, though, Luciano has never forgot where he came from; to him, music is largely about giving back. This principle was embodied when the producer started his foundation “One Coin for One Life”, which raises money to fund education facilities in various communities through ticket sales and special events. As he explained, “I[‘ve] played to thousands and thousands of people. But the foundation is a real momentum in my life.” The foundation’s first project was starting an indigenous school in Colombia and has since developed projects in Luciano’s home town Chile, as well as in Kenya. Check out the video below to get a glimpse of his work with One Coin for One Life.