Ethical Ravers: Where non-profits meet the electronic music community

This week's blog explores how the electronic dance community is supporting charities, and could provide further opportunities for non-profits to engage young people.
Rita Anchutina
 

It is often hard to dissociate the notion of raves from a range of illegal substances, marginality and aggressive beats of techno or drum & bass. I get it. A plethora of world problems is hardly the first thing that comes to mind when one enters an abandoned warehouse or a seemingly dodgy club filled with people wearing chains, black latex pants and leather harnesses. However, over the time of attending various events and getting to know people working in the industry, I’ve realised that it would be totally wrong to assume that rave enthusiasts, DJs and promoters are the last persons to care about fundraising for a variety of good causes that often have little to nothing to do with the music itself.

 

We often witness various collaborations between charities and brands in the UK and measure prompted awareness of such corporate partnerships in our Charity Awareness Monitor. What we don’t hear about that often, however, are the ways in which dance music community unites with the charity sector. Yet, just because you don’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

 

Countless nights and projects held in support of charitable causes are now in bloom. Fundraising is now becoming one of the dominant themes in the electronic music community. Think about legendary platforms such as Resident Advisor and Boiler Room that regularly throw fundraiser parties, launch partnerships with non-profit organisations, campaign on social media and encourage their staff to volunteer. Producers and DJs add to the list as they run charity record labels, donate track revenues and spin the decks in aid of charities.[1] And how about aspiring artists and students? One of the most prestigious global music production academies, Point Blank Music School, has its own page dedicated to charitable works they are engaged in, not only listing their current initiatives but also demonstrating the rewarding aspects of such activities.

 

This is not to mention the actual charities founded and actively contributed to by electronic musicians. Music Against Animal Cruelty (M.A.A.C.) and Last Night A DJ Saved My Life (LNADJ) are charitable foundations with the dance music spirit. The latter is literally the product of ‘the commitment and passion of generous volunteers along with the support of some key companies and individuals both inside and outside of the dance music industry’.[2] To help children in need, LNADJ run campaigns that attract an array of prominent sponsors, such as, but not limited to, Pioneer DJ, Mixcloud and Point Blank Music School itself.

 

It is indeed great to see the efforts of music professionals who nurture the symbiosis of the industry and the charity sector; however, it is important to acknowledge those who stand behind those many contributions (monetary or not) that keep the fundraising machine running in the field. It is the admirers of the electronic genre who turn into ethical ravers when proceeds from their purchased club tickets, drinks or tracks go to charities. Even if it often is something they do unknowingly, the rapid popularisation of such initiatives surely makes more and more people aware of the issues the donations are collected for and fuels deliberate decisions that fans make in that regard.

 

The moral of the story is rather straightforward. The electronic music industry should not neglect the importance and power of building partnerships with the voluntary and community sectors. But the feeling is mutual. Non-profits, on their part, need to be more open to accept those partnerships and do more to fully unlock a colossal fundraising potential that a large electronic music community possesses by opening up a path to young people’s giving. This would be a good opportunity to attract 16-24 and 25-34 years-olds who are generally less keen to donate to charities, as shown in our Charity Awareness Monitor.[3] Finally, if you (as a charity, artist or a devoted fan) are lacking a good reason or some inspiration, think about the time the Cause threw a fundraiser in honour of Keith Flint to raise awareness for mental health and directed all bar and ticket profits to Mind and CALM;[4] or all the ‘worthy causes’ Glastonbury organisers worked together to with Oxfam, WaterAid and Greenpeace.[5] There is plenty of room for imagination and even more for success.

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