From Bob Dylan protesting for peace to Bruce Springsteen railing against Wall Street, music has always been a powerful medium for raising public awareness about the important issues of the day. Indeed, music is the original viral messaging tool as songs were one of the main ways of keeping cultural and political messages alive and thriving in communities through the generations.
Music is often able to say what we cannot directly raise in polite conversation and somehow makes taboo topics more palatable for many communities and cultures. Often, music serves as a potent force for introducing ideas that catalyse change and making sure they stay and blossom in our minds using catchy rhymes, irresistible hooks and toe-tapping rhythm. An excellent example is Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” which champions the LGBT cause by wrapping the message about accepting people regardless of gender or sexual orientation within a hummable tune and sing-along lyrics.
Today, the power of music to tell stories and communicate powerful messages has been greatly enhanced by radio, film and television. With the coming of the Internet and social networking sites such as YouTube, Vimeo and MySpace, the ability of music to effect change has been further amplified as anyone with an instrument, some musical talent and a webcam recorder can record themselves on their laptop and upload their songs for the world to hear.
For the cause to end violence against women and other difficult human rights issues, music and musicians are a crucial part of giving the cause a voice that will be heard. This is because, more often than not, it is difficult to get people talking about it but a song may be just the positive trigger needed to get the conversation going.
Whether you are a musician or a music fan or an activist who loves music, here are 5 ways you can use music to help propel the cause to end violence against women and other humanitarian issues:
Musical Activism Idea 1: Get Songwriting! If you are a songwriter, take up the challenge of writing songs that talk about violence against women and other human rights issues and that gives a voice to survivors of violence and abuse. And it needn’t be all doom and gloom – some of the most well-known songs out there such as “Man in the Mirror” and “Big Yellow Taxi” prove that songs about social justice issues can be as catchy as any other song.
Musical Activism Idea 2: YouTube It! Whether you are a budding or seasoned musician, get on YouTube to perform your songs for social change… or select songs about social justice to cover. With low-cost or free sound recording and video editing programmes easily available now, there is no excuse not to get online and get music vlogging!
Musical Activism Idea 3: Get The Competition Going! If you are a nonprofit, consider running a music competition requiring contestants to also carry your message of social change in their music as part of their participation. This can be a YouTube competition such as The Pixel Project’s YouTube Cover Carnival contest or a songwriting competition or even a live performance competition a la The Voice.
Musical Activism Idea 4: Soundtrack Your Campaign! Whether you are a grassroots group, an activist or a nonprofit, make music an integral part of your campaign be it using appropriate songs to buoy up spirits during your protest march, creating an anthem for your cause or including selling music downloads as part of your fundraising activities.
Musical Activism Idea 5: Go live! From Band Aid to Live 8 to Global Freedom Concerts, concerts have been a staple for raising awareness and fundraising for causes ranging from famine in Africa to Human Trafficking. So organise local musicians to hold concerts or short performances to help raise funds and awareness for your cause.
Excited to begin using music to enhance your efforts to stop violence against women? Why not start by taking part in The Pixel Project’s Valentine 2013 YouTube Cover Carnival in tribute to Jyoti Singh Pandey and Delhi Gang Rape victim and to say NO to violence against women while getting a chance to win the Grand Prize Package which includes free song production, free digital distribution and being featured on the YouTube homepage of YouTube’s #1 R&B group, AHMIR.
The competition ends at 9PM EST on 28 February 2013.
- For more information, visit http://is.gd/YouTubeCoverCarnival
- Got a question about the competition? Visit the competition FAQ pages.
Regina Yau is the Founder and President of The Pixel Project. Regina Yau is a global citizen who synergises Western liberalism with Asian pragmatism and her own social conscience. In 2009, she created The Pixel Project to raise funds, awareness and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women using the power of the internet, popular culture and new technologies. Regina is a Rhodes Scholar with a long-standing commitment to women’s issues.
This article is originally published on Music For Pixels and is cross posted with permission.