by Marianne Meyer
The roster of rockers signed on to perform during Friday’s “Hope For Haiti” telethon (January 22) is a sterling one – Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Coldplay, Sting, Bono and the Edge, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews and many others have committed to help raise funds during the two-hour (8-10 p.m. ET/PT) televised event. Airing commercial-free across ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, BET, the CW, HBO, MTV, VH1 and CMT, the show is set to become the most widely distributed global telethon in history.
On the digital tip, as of Saturday, all of the musical performances will be available for purchase through iTunes, with all proceeds benefitting Haitian relief through Oxfam America, Partners in Health, Red Cross, UNICEF and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation.
But let’s talk about two other, online initiatives aimed at music lovers who want to help the troubled nation.
Paste magazine, the monthly music and arts publication/online site, is offering access to a digital “Download Vault” of over 250 songs by a diverse roster of artists to anyone who donates to help Haiti. You can donate at the “Songs for Haiti” site, or simply state that you have made a donation elsewhere (perhaps while watching the telethon?). In a press statement from Paste, a spokesperson wrote, “It’s our hope that this ‘honor system’ approach will help generate greater excitement and spread the support to the many worthy organizations out there. The goal is to help Haiti, not draw attention to Paste or how much we’re able to raise directly.”
“Songs for Haiti” is an outgrowth of last year’s “Save Paste Campaign,” when the magazine offered free music to readers and fans who donated to keep the publication in business. In that event, over 150 artists contributed songs and raised more than $250,000 to, in the publication’s words, “help our magazine survive its darkest hour.”
Some of the songs from the “Save Paste” campaign are being re-purposed in the new campaign for Haiti, but there are scores of new ones as well, many of them previously unreleased. The full roster of tracks includes the likes of Ludacris, Of Montreal, Andrew Bird, Hanson, Switchfoot, Hanson, Ben Folds, Cowboy Junkies, Emmylou Harris, Indigo Girls, Josh Ritter, Passion Pit, She & Him, The Avett Brothers, The Decemberists and The String Cheese Incident. To see the full list, go to the Download Vault.
Since Paste is not a charitable organization (although it is working towards creating a “Songs for Good” organization and web infrastructure that could be used in future), donations submitted directly to “Songs for Haiti” are not tax deductible, but 100% of the donations will be passed on to charities actively working in Haiti – Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, and the Yele Haiti Fund. Again, from the magazine’s statement: “We don’t think people should donate to the relief efforts in Haiti just to get a reward. But this gives Paste and artists a way to help, using the thing we’re most passionate about—music…We want to make a strong statement of concern and show the generosity of our readers and the music community in general.”
The urge to help is alive within the punk community as well. Vinnie Fiorello, drummer of ska/punk staples Less Than Jake and owner of Paper + Plastick Records, has teamed up with Punknews.org to set up an auction of rare vinyl test-pressings and collectors items LimitedPressing.com. 100% of the proceeds there will be donated to the Doctors Without Borders organization.
The Gainesville, FL-based musician/entrepreneur issued a statement saying that, “The devastation in Haiti moved me,” and explained how a tweet from Justin August of Punknews, also expressing his concern, spurred the two to join together with LimitedPressing. August, who is Social Media Editor for Punknews, wrote, “What good is a position at a website like Punknews, with its vast reach if you don’t use it for some sort of greater good?”
Among the rare items to be auctioned for the “Haiti Earthquake Relief Effort” will be test pressings from Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory, Panic At The Disco, Thursday, Phantom Planet, Less Than Jake and others plus signed items like posters and EPs. A full list of auction items, updated regularly, can be viewed here.
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