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Apr 15

“Playing It Forward Is Just The Beginning”

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I believe in the power of music. I believe in the power of communion, the ability to motivate and bring people together for a common purpose. The power of music is essentially limitless. Only the motivation behind it and the direction in which you take the platform are parameters for the potential range and scope. I had a wonderful discussion with the Executive Director of the Electronic Music Alliance, Janine Jordan, about some of their programs they have implemented and some that they are hoping to incorporate into the EMA. The EMA is a non-profit organization, with a primary focus on utilizing the EDM community to inspire and promote well-being for themselves, others, and last, but not least, Mother Earth.

 

When was the EMA founded?

Electronic Music Alliance (EMA) was founded in 2008.  It started as an idea around a kitchen table.  EMA was a grassroots initiative by myself, my husband (Ken Jordan of The Crystal Method), and Monica Salazar, as a branch of the non-profit Green Wave in late 2009. They were inspired by their work, and believed the electronic music community could and should unify to inspire the youth culture, collaborate to create innovative ideas that could make their culture more sustainable, and to leave a cultural legacy of philanthropy. The EMA started working to develop relationships with several non-profits in 2010 for their Play it FWD initiative whereby artists could donate their talent to a night of charity. Initially it was just myself & Monica setting up The Crystal Method to play for some of our favorite non-profits such as the Sea Shepherds, Amazon Watch, and the Human Rights Campaign. In 2011, a few other influential industry members found out about what they were up to and had interest in becoming involved so the 3 founders agreed to create a board of directors for EMA at the end of that year. In 2012, EMA spent a year convincing both friends and top industry of the importance to unite and join them. In 2013, EMA continued to lay the foundation for the future of the organization with a new interactive website and more formalized initiatives. In 2014, we are preparing to open the gates for the entire community of artists and party-festival goers to get involved be part of the Sound of Change. The EMA logo is inspired by the 1970’s Ecology logo. EMA is PLUR in action!

 

What is your role within the organization and what are your responsibilities?

My current role within EMA is Main Inspiratrix. I am the current acting Executive Director. I oversee a board of ten amazing people. I currently am the head of all the committees (although we are slowing finding people that can share the responsibility) I am currently in charge of all volunteers, and am the head of the Los Angeles Chapter. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but I am seeing so much traction. There are people that are just waiting to be activated. My board is a working board and so through their help, the help of some of our advisers, founding members of the alliance, key volunteers, and my two kick ass program directors I have had this year, the organization is growing and I will not have to juggle all things on my own anymore. The alliance is a non-profit. Everyone currently that helps out does it solely on a volunteer basis. There are no salaries, including myself. I think money always incentivizes people to work a little harder … but I’d have to say that what we are doing is something people believe in and they are putting forth as much of their effort that they can afford to be part of the foundation of this alliance and this build. We are making history. We are just at the foreground of an electronic music charity and foundation that is built by the people of the electronic music scene.

 

What is the mission statement of the EMA?

The mission statement for EMA is: To create and celebrate the positivity inherent within our culture. To unite forward thinking electronic music leaders, artists, and fans in order to create a cultural legacy of raising the bar and creating positive social and environmental changes within both our industry and our communities.

 

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How would you describe the success of the Play It Forward program? How would you like to see it grow?

The Play it FWD program is really the crux of EMA. Everything else really falls under this banner to me. We started out “Play it FWD” with the basic idea that we should encourage DJ’s to play one free charity event per year. It has been easy for me to recruit my husband’s band, “The Crystal Method,” and some of our other friends like DJ Rap, to be role models for this initiative.  However, we started to realize that what we really wanted is for everyone to give back, because we all can. We can all take a pledge to do something for charity once a year. Many of us have different skills we can donate. Those that do not want to donate skills can just buy tickets to a charity event or go volunteer for a charity…it’s really limitless of what our community can, does, and could do.  We are hoping to grow this program by creating a gamification strategy around it.  We are currently working on that now.

 

When did the EMA start the Green Wave program and how has it been implemented?

EMA started all the programs, in theory, kind of at the same time. Before they were programs, they were thoughts of what we should be educating our community about. All the programs are in their infancy still as I have been busy building the alliance aspect of it. Green Wave is more of an umbrella for our green initiatives. We have some services (like green advice and tips) that are available upon request.  The greening of the entertainment hospitality rider is something I did for my husband’s tour back in 2009. So ever since then, we have made sure that we continue to modify the rider to be as eco as possible. This is an example of a service. I am very passionate about our Ewaste awareness and drive program. I felt strongly that something needed to be developed that we could be known for. I think responsible Ewaste recycling awareness and drives should be it. Since our culture is reliant upon electronics for the creation and delivery of our music, we should be responsible for the responsible disposal of its end cycle. The planet is actually in crisis. We need to rewire our brains to think about our use of everything differently. I think change always starts with the individual, so I wanted something that would resonate with our community. I want to thank one of my key volunteers, Stefanie Lees, for helping me with my initial Ewaste plans, and also, April Oden, my last programs director, and well as, Graham Penniman, my current acting programs director for helping me make this program a reality. We just held a successful Ewaste drive in my community of North Hollywood at my local Farmer’s Market. It was a great event in that it showcased the possibility of how this program can act like a bridge from our culture into the larger culture.  We had David Loomstein and Jeff Murrell DJ some groovy daytime appropriate house music outside by the recycling truck, while friends danced with hula hoops. We even had a little after party at a bar down the street thanks to Justin Markell and OneBeat.Tv. By having our event at the market, we helped increase sales for the vendors that day. The neighborhood council and the market organizers were so impressed they have asked me to run for the board of the council! I’m telling you, if we all just get activated, there is so much good we can do the idea to me is just incredible.

 

What are the core elements of the iLove program? How has this program been received?

The iLove program, much like our other programs, is in its infancy. My previous programs director was very interested in hearing awareness. We decided hearing awareness would be our first education initiative, under the harm reduction and health banner, as it would be easier than just starting out with “drug education” … which is something several of our charity partners already do anyway (like DanceSafe and the Drug Policy Alliance).  My programs director got called out to sea so many of our plans basically got shelved since my new programs director leaned more toward green initiatives. We do have a cool mannequin that named ,Raver J, aka “Jolene” that I would like to bring out to events. She measures the decibel level that people are listening to their music delivery devices (mp3 players/phones) at. Unfortunately, at a convention last year (the first time we put her on display) she was robbed of her measuring device. She is currently in storage with plans of transferring her to a local volunteer’s house are in play so he can repair her and we can bring her out on the field! We do have an infographic for hearing awareness that has been received well. We also were thanked profusely at the Campus DJ Finales held in Hollywood this past year where we were giving out free EMA ear plugs.

 

How can people get involved with the Advocacy Initiative?

Join our “underground” by registering on our website. Then search to join the space “Industry Talk”. You can bring up advocacy “issues” there.

 

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Where would you like to see the EMA in 5 years?

In 5 years, I would like to see EMA be everywhere.  We want to be THE GO TO CHARITY BRAND for all of the electronic music scene and culture.  We want to be a global brand that people trust and are excited to take part in.  I’d like for us to have a huge roster PlayitFWD artists and charities.  I’d like us to be part of every club and every event somehow.  I want to know that people are #PlayingitFWD everywhere and all the time.  I want it to be what our culture is known for. We are still ground floor. You can make a difference. Get involved with the Electronic Music Alliance (EMA). Come play with us! www.ema-global.org  — Together we are the alliance. We are the Sound of Change.

 

Is a key demographic the youth?

I don’t really look at our culture that way. I feel like everyone is a kid at heart in our culture. We originally wanted to target the industry and work down. We needed industry buy-in, up front, that we would be coming to them in the future with the intent that we wanted to both protect and showcase the potential of our culture possibly at music festivals in the future. Targeted initiatives to me would be our presence at festivals (where a lot of the younger demographic of our culture besides those working the event do hang out). I like to refrain from necessarily thinking about people based off of age versus preferred musical taste in our scene. I think if we did anything “targeted” it would be just making sure we are speaking to that particular sub-scene. For instance, I have written EMA tips for both Roll Random (a new awesome app) and RaveReady.com. I write those tips in a slightly different voice, if you will.  They have slightly different aesthetics and demographics although I wouldn’t say the age range is different.

 

Is there a direct methodology for expanding “Play It Forward” roster development?

When it comes to artists…yes, we want their endorsement and no we would not discriminate on up-and-coming versus established. We are working on artists organically. What will come to us is meant to be first. That’s the only way to describe it. Artist relations is a full time job. Currently every one that participates (including myself) is an unpaid volunteer. We don’t have anyone at the moment that can dedicate the time to just artist relations. We do have some amazing manager and agent support that, when the time is right and we are ready to pitch them, should have full rosters they will feel comfortable exposing us to. It’s better that we spend the time up front developing our ideas and programs before we ask for more artist support so that they know exactly what they are supporting. It’s very important to be able to continually activate people, especially when they are in a position where they have influence.

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Will the EMA offer any type of mentoring program to help promote coordinated efforts within respective aspects of the EDM industry?  

We are actually exploring mentoring program concepts right now because it is being asked of us. One of our founding members, Kaskade’s manager, Stephanie LaFera, had started a program called “Sky Light” which was designed to mentor young women that are interested in a professional career within the electronic music industry. I’m not sure what is happening with that exactly but I would rather support and align with an organization like Sky Light to channel our members to rather than just create our own. Every program is almost like its own company, if you will. We called ourselves an alliance for a reason, because we wanted to collaborate not because we want to create everything on our own. The alliance is meant to be more like an umbrella for other organizations. Mentoring to me means more of a one-on-one concept. I think what we will lean toward is more of a group call setting. Mentoring is also very industry-oriented and our focus is geared more to creating programs that will bridge our industry and culture to the greater local communities around us. As a public charity, we are required to create programs that serve a public purpose. Ewaste drives, hearing awareness campaigns, trash pickups, beach cleanups…those types of activities give our community something to channel their dance floor love into while helping out the public. We want to demonstrate to the world through our programs how amazing the people of our culture are.

 

It should be easy to appreciate wanting to do something for a good cause. It should be even easier to appreciate when there is a banging soundtrack attached to it. Positive people and positive vibes yield positive results. Doing a selfless act for others is something we are all capable of doing. You might think that your specific skill set or capabilities are not inherently “marketable” or that someone might not appreciate your help. You’re wrong. If you’re setting out  to help, whether it be reading to someone, helping them across the street, or even opening the door for a stranger, you’re doing a good thing. The EDM community is one of the most open, caring, and passionate groups of people the world over. If we harness our combined motivation to merge the maxims of “P.L.U.R.” and “Pay It Forward,” we might be able to change the world for the better. If those can be combined, consider the EDM community the fusion center, radiating outward nothing but positivity. We bask in the warmth of the sun. Why not do so in the kindness of ourselves and others? It makes every day beach weather.

 

http://ema-global.org

https://www.facebook.com/ElectronicMusicAlliance