THE HEALING – HELPING POWER OF MUSIC
BY QUINTON SHEER
When there are people in need, the arts and entertainment industry has always been quick to help raise funds or to lend a hand. And when the world needs as escape, they turn to the arts. Like many arts, music, not only gives people an escape to a happier time but also gives people comfort and hope.
While major artists often donate their time and talent to those in need, emerging musicians are discovering the benefits of working with charities and the concept of ‘cause marketing.” Cause marketing occurs when a for profit endeavor like a music group (yes, they are for profit despite their actual income) partners with a nonprofit for mutual benefit. Both get name recognition, entertainment, and exposure which in turn can lead to more fans and more donations. When the image of the artists and the charity fit together both brands are strengthened.
Cause marketing is not just a way to get more fans. It is a way to build relationships and show the artist in a whole new light. It can establish an artist in certain locals and endear them to old and new fans alike. When picking a charity to get involved with the term, “Think global, act local” comes to mind. Don’t just jump on whatever cause is hot at the moment. An artist’s involvement should mean something aside from the hopes of gaining exposure. Sure, they might be on a compilation CD sold to help the peoples of Malawi, but can they find it on the map? Musicians on Call is a nonprofit organization that achieves a global impact through local activism.
Since 1999, Musicians on Call has been bringing live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities. It began in New York City when musician Kenli Mattus was asked to put on a show for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. When one of the nurses suggested he play for those patients who were unable to attend because they could not leave their rooms, Musicians on Call was born. Michelle Klinger, program director for the Miami, FL, chapter, said, “The intimate interaction between musician and patient was just so amazing. That’s how the idea came about.”
“Music is so powerful. It triggers a memory. It triggers emotion and to play for people who are sad, who are having a rough day, who are not feeling well, it completely transforms the energy in the room,” said Klinger. The opportunities to make a difference are not just reserved for big names like Daughtry and Lady Antebellum, who have each been a part of Musicians on Call. “The heart of the organization are local musicians.”
Kindhearted music fans will be happy to know that volunteer opportunities are not limited to musicians. Non musical guides escort the musicians. “The way that it works, a guide goes in 1st so the patient does not feel pressure to say yes. In hospitals, patients never get to say no. They are always told what to do, what to eat, ‘I’m gonna poke you!’ so when they [are asked their preference] it is very empowering.” When the patients do say yes the musician enters and plays. Guides are trained by both Musicians on Call and the individual facilities.
Musicians on Call has chapters in New York, Miami, Nashville, and Philadelphia. While not yet in Orlando, they hope to create awareness and have had the help of local radio promotion and industry writers and professionals. Where bedside performances have yet to take place the organization provides CD Pharmacies: music libraries and players. These CD Pharmacies are in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and Ireland and are tailored to each facility’s needs and interests. They incorporate every genre of music.
Many local Central Florida bands have learned the value of attaching their name to a worthy cause and have benefited from it. Shane Wooten walked across the state of Florida, raising money for and playing at several Ronald McDonald Houses. Of course he also played his new single. Patrick Gibson has made a great habit partnering with cancer and children’s charities. His partnering with the Ronald McDonald House led to his CD being sold in 25 local McDonalds. Anyone’s Guess has had repeated success in their Rock for Blood events in getting music fans to donate blood.
Helping yourself by helping others is the whole point. The cause doesn’t have to be half a world away. In fact, the impact an artist can make may be bigger when they act locally. Organizations like Musicians on Call help make it possible for local acts to have global impacts.