Charity Music Releases - Altruistic or Easy Marketing?
As a $6.2 billion industry, electronic dance music is in a uniquely influential position. Big-name DJs are now competing with some of the highest earners in the music industry, and giant brands like 7 Up and T-Mobile are pouring tens of millions of dollars into EDM.
With great power comes great responsibility, and the EDM industry is stepping up in multiple ways to use its success for good. Founder of Insomniac, Pasquale Rotella recently wrote checks for over $100,000 to local charities, donations that came straight from 2015 Electric Daisy Carnival profits. Lifestyle brand Electric Family partners with EDM artists to design and sell custom bracelets that benefit each artist's charity of choice. One of the most prominent examples is the charity release. So many artists are now releasing singles with all or a portion of proceeds going to a charity that it's becoming a trend. While it's great to see so many artists hopping on the philanthropy wagon, how genuine or impactful is the charity release?
A charity release is a seemingly noble act, but I can't shake the feeling that for some artists it's becoming more of a marketing tactic than an actual desire to give back. Here at EDM.com we receive dozens of press releases a day, and with the over saturation of track releases it’s apparent that the charity angle is an attempt to cut through the clutter. The artist gets the brand boost of positive association - ‘Hey, look at me, I’ve got a heart’ - but is this helping fans to learn about global issues and understand the significance or even just the personal connection between the artist and the cause? Are they becoming so common that every charity release is just another random donation? If an artist advertises that a percentage of the proceeds from a release are going to charity, how much can this really amount to especially when the money is no longer in music releases? The real money is in touring.
We can never look down on anyone trying to give back, and when it comes to making a difference - every little bit helps. But I think it’s time we challenge the artists of our community to take that extra step and use their platform to bring true awareness to the cause they are supporting, rather than just slapping a charity stamp on their next single.
There’s something especially commendable about Axwell /\ Ingrosso’s recent charity release, as the focus really is on the cause: to help refugee children. From the title of the track - "This Time We Can't Go Home" - to the symbolism used in its unique premiere, the charity release points back to the refugee crisis. The duo premiered the new single, through an art installation on the streets of Amsterdam during ADE. An accompanying video with footage capturing the art installation (see below) explains the cause so fans can at least learn (or be reminded of) why it's important and urgent. This charity release sticks out for its valiant attempt to say, 'Hey music fans, this is a crisis that is happening right now and here's a super easy way to start getting involved.'
If an artist isn't particularly passionate about any one cause, but still wants to pick a charity to contribute to through a music release - Great! But using celebrity status to educate and create discussions surrounding issues will not only have a greater impact but could potentially encourage EDM fans to get involved in a cause beyond buying or streaming the charity release.