The Second And Final Part Of ‘The Good Stuff’
By Dan Ferrisi
At the risk of trotting out a shopworn cliché, The Retailer was given an embarrassment of riches when, a couple of months ago, it sent out a solicitation that asked for news of music products companies’ charitable and philanthropic efforts for our annual “The Good Stuff” cover story. Indeed, it was the first time in this writer’s memory that we literally did not have enough room to include all the wonderful things with which companies in our industry are involved. So, this month, we shine our spotlight on a dozen additional companies that exemplify the phrase “doing well while doing good.”
Throughout the year, The Retailer aspires to be a source of information, advice and, occasionally, inspiration for both the music products industry and the retailers in the trenches. These kinds of stories, though, do the most important thing of all: serve to warm our collective hearts.
In October 2011, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month, Amptweaker auctioned two special pink TightRock distortion pedals to help raise money for this worthy cause. Awareness is important, but much more important is to help with the funding needed to further advancements in the constant fight to help end this devastating disease. The two pedals were auctioned on eBay, and 100 percent of the sale price was donated directly to Komen.org; both pedals were shipped free to the winners. Each included special artwork on the chassis, and came with special owner’s manuals and boxes with matching serial numbers: “SN-1 of 2” and “SN-2 of 2.” Thanks are offered to all the vendors who donated parts or who helped promote the event. Amptweaker encourages all to participate in these types of auctions, or to go directly to komen.org to donate.
Gibson Pro Audio Division
The Cerwin-Vega!, KRK and Stanton brands of the Gibson Pro Audio division have a history of giving back to the community through philanthropic efforts. Over the last year, for example, the brands have assisted several non-profit educational organizations throughout the U.S. The company recently donated KRK Rokits and Stanton headphones to the recording studios of Notes for Notes, a non-profit after-school program located in Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Santa Barbara CA and Nashville TN, which provides youths with free access to musical instruments, instruction and recording studio environments. “KRK and Stanton were the first companies to step up and support us with products,” noted Philip Gilley, Executive Director and Founder of Notes for Notes.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Stanton headphones, STR8.150 turntables and M.207 mixers are helping to bring DJ basics to the AMG DJ Academy. Founded by Artist Music Group to give aspiring local DJs a place to learn more about their craft, the school strives to teach every aspect of being a DJ. “With DJs, it’s all about familiar products. So, when starting up the school, we knew we wanted to have the latest and most popular equipment available,” remarked Anthony Yepez, Founder of AMG DJ Academy.
Across the nation, KRK’s monitors and subwoofers ensure that all P’Tones Records studios have high playback quality. A non-profit after-school music program, P’Tones’ primary goal is to provide urban high school youths with the knowledge and skills needed to break into the music industry. “I have had nothing but spectacular feedback and communication about KRK,” declared Oren Rosenbaum, CEO of P’Tones Records.
Several Cerwin-Vega! and Stanton products are also on hand at The Rage Entertainment Complex in Los Angeles, assisting top choreographers and coaches in teaching the fine art of music and dance to aspiring young performers. Currently in use by the school are Cerwin-Vega! stage monitors, folded-horn speakers, full range PA speakers and a wide variety of amplifiers. Stanton products include a C500 CD player and DJ Pro 3000 headphones.
Dean Markley Strings, Cort Guitars, Hartke
Dean Markley Strings, Cort Guitars, Hartke and five-time Grammy winner Victor Wooten joined forces in February to bring music and inspiration to the country of Haiti. In a visit led by photojournalist Jon Moyer and music products industry insider Josh Vittek, products, hope and a surprise visit were given to a family doing remarkable things to help their community recover from the 2010 earthquake. Dean Markley donated a lifetime of bass strings, shirts, wrist bands and glow-in-the-dark, guitar-shaped lapel pins for children in the community, and Cort Guitars donated an Arona 5 electric bass and EARTH100 acoustic guitar. Hartke provided a new A25 combo bass amp.
The visit was spearheaded by Moyer, who went to Haiti in September 2010 after hearing about a pastor of a church that was doing remarkable things to help his community recover from the earthquake. Running a church out of a building much smaller than an average home, Pastor Pierre and his congregation have committed to raise and support 20 orphaned or homeless children from the earthquake. After learning that the pastor’s son, Bekenson, was a big fan of Victor Wooten, Moyer and Vittek committed to bringing Wooten and the power of music to help inspire and heal this community, and to surprise Bekenson with a visit from his favorite musical hero.
The visit was documented and resulted in the film “Haiti 10,” a story of faith, love and the power of music helping a community rise above the horrific 2010 earthquake. The “Haiti 10” film crew consisted of Jon Moyer (Director), Josh Vittek (Producer), NAMM’s Pete Johnston (Director of Cinematography), Kindra French (Co-Producer) and Joe Brandi (Co-Producer). Haiti 10 will be released in August, premiering in California and New York.
A trailer for the movie can be found at youtu.be/g2TtX_2FIqI.
With annual donations to more than 400 non-profit organizations in northeastern Indiana, Sweetwater and its President and Founder, Chuck Surack, have been recognized, in particular, for support of the arts. In 2008, Surack received the BCA Ten Award, a national award presented by the Business Committee for the Arts, which recognizes 10 companies for their arts leadership; in 2009, Surack received the Governor’s Arts Award from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. Arts organizations receiving significant annual support include the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Museum of Art, the Embassy Theatre, Arts United, Civic Theatre, FAME (Foundation for Art and Music in Education) Festival, the local NPR station and Audiences Unlimited, Inc.
The Unity Performing Arts Foundation’s (UPAF) Voices of Unity Choir was able to win gold medals at the World Choir Games in China in 2010, in part with major support from Sweetwater; funding has been renewed to allow UPAF to perform at the World Choir Games again this summer in Cincinnati.
Grants of cash and gear are made to virtually every school music program and festival in Fort Wayne. Major sponsorships include funding marching bands performing in the annual Three Rivers Festival Parade, and the summer concert series at the Allen County Public Library Plaza and Foellinger Outdoor Theater. Sweetwater is the title sponsor of the state conference of the Indiana Music Education Association from 2011 to 2013.
Sweetwater has made major, multi-year capital commitments to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, ARC (Easter Seals), Arts United and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, plus large, continuing grants that helped to launch music technology degree programs at the University of St. Francis and Indiana Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW).
Sweetwater also contributes annually to many social service organizations, including the American Heart Association, ARC (Easter Seals), Big Brothers Big Sisters, Cancer Services, Community Harvest Food Bank, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Fort Wayne Urban League, Matthew 25 Health Clinic, Turnstone and Youth for Christ.
Outside of Fort Wayne, Sweetwater is an annual sponsor of the Nashville Engineer Relief Fund Golf Outing, and makes significant contributions to the Music Department at Indiana University in Bloomington. Additionally, dozens of contributions of cash and gear are made to colleges and university music programs around the country, as well as to fundraisers for victim assistance.
Remo, Inc., believes that helping to improve the human condition through music and rhythm is core to its mission. Remo Belli stated, “I know now that a part of our company is in the life-enhancement business.” Remo has a facility in North Hollywood CA, the Remo Recreational Music Center (RMC), which has become the heartbeat of the community with classes, clinics, concerts and free drum circles. HealthRHYTHMS, a research-based program developed by Remo, promotes drumming as a wellness tool. There are now 2,000 trained HealthRHYTHMS Facilitators who are bringing this program to hospitals, businesses, classrooms, support groups, senior citizens and more internationally.
Remo also takes pride in supporting and enhancing arts and education, sponsoring more than 300 artist clinics per year, 16 World Class DCI corps, 39 WGI drumlines, Bands of America, YEA, PAS and others. As an official sponsor of the Rose Parade and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Remo donates more than 5,000 drumheads annually in the pursuit of educational growth.
Beat the Odds is another program that has proven to be a viable model for bringing about positive behavioral changes in students. Remo, Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center Arts Education Program, and UCLArts and Healing Center have partnered to bring this program to the Los Angeles County schools in the Santa Clarita Valley. After eight months of participation in the program, all 7,000 sixth and seventh graders were brought together on May 18 for “Rock the Rhythm, Beat the Odds,” an effort to break a Guinness World’s Record for the largest youth drum circle, bringing awareness to the importance of music and arts education.
Recently, Remo Belli brought three Remo Buffalo Drums to Remo artist Ringo Starr to autograph for an auction to benefit a Southern California non-profit, Arts and Services for Disabled, and its ArtBeat for Humanity initiative, where students create art on Frames Drums donated by Remo.
Remo gets requests for donations from non-profits on nearly a daily basis, doing all it can to support those organizations that share its mission.
Audio-Technica officially kicked off its 50th anniversary year in the U.S. with a special gala event held January 19 during the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim CA. The event featured an all-star music revue produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Phil Ramone. Among the featured all-star cast of performers were saxophonist and longtime Audio-Technica endorser Mindi Abair, R&B/jazz vocalist Patti Austin, new age/adult-contemporary superstar and endorser Jim Brickman, smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz, vocalist Monica Mancini, trumpeter/pianist/composer Arturo Sandoval, gospel/R&B music legend BeBe Winans and Canadian jazz-pop vocalist Nikki Yanofsky. In commemoration of the event, all eight performers decided to donate their performance honoraria to different music education programs and institutions, helping promote the importance of music education and assisting students in their pursuits.
Greg Pinto, Audio-Technica U.S. Vice President of Marketing and Consumer Sales, stated, “[I]t is a special honor that [these performers] are donating these funds toward music education, a cause that is very near to the hearts of the A-T family.”
Phil Ramone donated his honorarium to The Salvation Army’s Phil Ramone Orchestra for Children. Abair decided to donate to the Berklee College of Music Five-Week Summer Performance Program. Austin also donated her honorarium to the Berklee College of Music. Brickman gave to his alma mater Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM). Koz donated to the GRAMMY Camp (held at and in partnership with the USC Thornton School of Music). Mancini selected The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. Sandoval chose the Young Musicians’ Camp at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. Winans donated to Juilliard’s Summer Jazz Workshops. Yanofsky selected the Schulich School of Music and its Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT) at McGill University.
Rane Corp. quietly helps hundreds of families every year in its little town (pop. 20,000) of Mukilteo WA, and has for 25 years. The annual food drives have delivered literally tons of food and tens of thousands of dollars to the Food Bank, and can always be counted on for emergency food drives when the cupboards are bare. The Toys For Tots drives have meant Christmas gifts for children. Employees volunteer at the library, as Boy and Girl Scout leaders, and as tutors in the local schools. The local Search & Rescue squad continues to rely on Rane’s support. Every year, Rane donates equipment and cash to support DJ events and schools to help at-risk youth throughout the country. Rane supports all sorts of organizations, from DJ camps to YMCA afterschool programs.
Rane’s proudest moment this past year was being named “Patriot Employer for Support of the National Guard and Reserve.” Rane isn’t known for splashy, headline-grabbing events, but does a great job, year after year, of helping those in the local, educational and military communities have a better life.
Casio America, Inc.
Casio America, Inc., supports young, up-and-coming musicians as well as supporting local community activities to promote music education and enjoyment. Overall, Casio has donated keyboards to the Rosewood Elementary School in Los Angeles, the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West at Camp Pedleton in San Diego and Jason Cordero, an aspiring musician. Recently, Casio partnered with Global Sound Lodge to provide keyboards to students and veterans in need. This initiative was inspired by Matt Sorum, Velvet Revolver drummer and Founder of Global Sound Lodge, from his passion and ongoing effort to help bring music and instruments to kids in need throughout the world.
Abby Loces, instrumental music and vocal teacher at Rosewood Elementary School, accepted the donation of the Casio keyboards to the school’s music program. As the only school in the area that provides an instrumental music and vocal program, the keyboards will enable the school to offer students an opportunity to pursue their interest in music.
With the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, the Marine Corps command provides and facilitates non-medical care to wounded, ill and injured Marines and their families in the western United States. Lieutenant Colonel Jim Fullwood accepted the Casio keyboards, which will play an integral role in helping Marines during their recovery process and as they continue to serve in the Marine Corps or transition back to civilian life.
Impressed by a natural love for music and dedication, Casio also donated a Privia PX330 keyboard to Jason Cordero, a 13-year-old aspiring pianist. Casio decided to give Cordero, using an older Privia keyboard for his regular Sunday classical music sessions in a New York City subway station, a brand new Privia so he could continue working toward his Julliard dream.
Casio believes it is a great privilege to be involved in programs like these and help make a difference in people’s lives through musical instruments.
Alfred Music Publishing
Alfred Music Publishing continues to help the world experience the joy of making music, as it offers help in times of need and support to community-affirming organizations year-round. It is Alfred’s hope that, through its efforts, more businesses, organizations and concerned individuals will be inspired to rise up and help. Alfred takes special interest in donating music material annually to schools across the nation stricken not only by slashed music budgets, but also by natural disasters. One year ago, Alfred donated music material to music classrooms affected by the severe storms, tornados and flooding in Joplin MO via Jane McEneaney and her non-profit teen theater organization, Ubuntu Theatre. “We are blessed with their generosity—and the children in Joplin MO will have music when choir rehearsals begin next week,” shared McEneaney.
On September 8, 2011, Owego NY was devastated by a flood in the wake of Hurricane Lee. Just days before the start of the fall semester, its elementary school lost all of its instruments and music materials. Alfred, along with several other businesses and countless individuals, supported the help effort to aid the Owego Apalachin Central School District. On September 19, at a borrowed facility in a neighboring town, all classes—including music and band—resumed, all thanks to the generous outpouring of funds, donated materials and volunteered time.
Since October 2011, Alfred regularly donates a variety of instructional resources, performance music and songbooks to two non-profit organizations that use music as a means to heal and connect people: American Voices and Operation Music Aid. Through summer youth performing arts academies, workshops and concerts presented in more than 110 countries worldwide, American Voices is dedicated to meaningful cultural engagement, reaching nations emerging from conflict or isolation. Operation Music Aid is a non-profit organization whose mission is to secure musical instruments of all types in order to help aid in the rehabilitation of our valiant soldiers, wounded while serving their country.
Sennheiser is involved with many philanthropic efforts. The Thinking Schools Ethiopia project, supported by the not-for-profit Thinking Foundation, is on a mission to implement the most advanced, student-centered approach to educating students throughout Ethiopia: the 14th most populated country in the world and one of its poorest. Through charitable equipment donations, Sennheiser is helping further the Thinking Foundation’s efforts by bringing a high-quality sound experience to the project’s professional training sessions and video productions.
Additionally, Sennheiser’s distributed brand K-array is donating to an orphanage charity. For every Ecodock sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the “A Smile for Burkina” association, a charitable organization dedicated to helping the “Les Saints Innocents” children’s orphanage in Burkina Faso: one of the poorest West African countries in the world. “Les Saints Innocents” is home to 130 orphans, four nuns and 16 caregivers. “A Smile for Burkina” began working with the orphanage in 2008 and is now hard at work on the construction and furnishing of three new classrooms for the children.
Kentucky’s Hearing and Speech Center recently rang in its 50th anniversary. The event, which was sponsored in part by Sennheiser, drew a capacity crowd of 500, many of whom came to hear President Bill Clinton deliver an engaging speech about the importance of providing services to children who are hearing impaired. The Hearing and Speech Center teaches children with hearing, speech and language impairments to listen and talk by providing high quality education, and therapeutic and family support services. Sennheiser, whose mission is to enable people to experience great sound, has been developing and manufacturing products for the hearing impaired for many years.
Finally, ProjectExplorer helps educate young people all around the world through the use of film and multimedia materials. ProjectExplorer relies on Sennheiser microphones and wireless units to help accomplish its mission. Not only does this equipment stand up to the diverse elements they face while traveling, but it also is a critical part in delivering extremely high quality content, making the experiences even more memorable and compelling.
Although Marshall’s famous white script logo and legendary 100W stacks are synonymous with hard rock and heavy metal and are instantly recognized icons, the late Jim Marshall, who died in April, quietly made generous donations of time and money for worthy causes. Over the past several decades, he helped many organizations and individuals, none more so than hospitals, charities, fundraisers and folks local to Marshall’s UK factory and headquarters in Bletchley, England, where he happily donated many millions of pounds.
In addition to this, he also raised money for charities near and dear to MI. Two recent occurrences were at NAMM 2011 and 2012, where donations were taken for Marshall “swag/literature bags.” As a result of the ensuing generosity, $10,000 was given to the “Stand Up & Shout” cancer fund in memory of the late, great Ronnie James Dio in 2011. And, at NAMM 2012, more than $12,000 was raised for Zakk Wylde’s charity of choice, St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Also, as a further way of “paying it forward,” in Marshall’s 50th anniversary year (1962-2012), he decided to custom make 12 1962 Bluesbreaker combos with Gold Plated chassis and donate them to signature artists to auction off for the charities of their choice. The reason for his tireless generosity? His childhood, which was blighted with tubercular bones: a rare condition that left him with brittle bones that literally robbed him of his youth, as he spent seven years of it in the hospital with his body encased in plaster to prevent fractures. As a result, he always felt compelled to help those less fortunate than himself. “I’ve been very successful,” he had stated. “Helping others is the very least I can do.”
Taylor Guitars is involved in a number of charitable activities, many focused on fostering music education. Through the Taylor Guitars for Schools program, the company has reached more than a million dollars in product donated, benefitting thousands of school-aged children and teens each year. This includes 1,800 Baby and Big Baby Taylors for elementary schools and 100 SolidBody Electrics for high schools. Also, in cooperation with Little Kids Rock, Taylor will be donating more than a half-million in guitars to various schools around the country: more than 300 guitars total. The schools will be from coast to coast. In addition, Taylor has partnered with TERI, which serves students with special education needs and developmental disabilities, including autism. With an allotment of 15 guitars, the school is starting a music program to serve its students with a hands-on experience in musical expression. Other organizations Taylor works with and makes donations to regularly include VH1 Save the Music Foundation, DoSomething.org, the Green Schoolhouse Series and others.
Finally, Taylor Guitars is committing to serving those who serve. This year, the company has donated guitars to Wounded Warriors/Still in the Fight campaign, the San Diego Police Officers Association, USO, the Marine Corp Historical Society and many others. One notable was Corporal Bradley Fite, whose dream it was to have and play a Jason Mraz Signature Model guitar.