Bright Ideas: A Music Partnership to Benefit Your Organization

Does music play an important role in your life? Has a song ever moved you to make a change or try something new? This month's bright idea comes from the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, where Jeff Hunter, the Tennessee Wild campaign coordinator, says he first got involved in conservation when he stopped by a Rainforest Action Network booth at a Grateful Dead concert.

SAFC recently partnered with Patagonia on their “Patagonia Music Collective,” which helps raise money for environmental organizations through the purchase of exclusive songs donated by popular music artists.

Hunter says he learned about the Patagonia Music Collective through a newspaper article and decided to check it out, downloading one of their compilation albums. He really liked the music and the concept, and thought “wouldn't it be great if we could get a song donated for our cause?” It would be an additional revenue stream. The group would be involved in a project spearheaded by one of the organization's funders, and they would get the cache of being associated with the Patagonia brand. The publicity for SAFC's wilderness protection efforts would be excellent. Hunter says it was “360 degrees of cool,” so he decided to pursue the idea, but says it wasn't easy.

Hunter had recently fallen in love with a band called the Civil Wars and did some research to see if they would be interested in SAFC and a partnership, before approaching them with the idea. It turns out one of the band members is from Tennessee and that was Hunter's “in.” He contacted the band's management with a proposal. Stressing his enthusiasm for the band's music, Hunter described the project and what SAFC does, highlighting his wilderness campaign in Tennessee. The band liked the idea and agreed to donate a song.

With the band on board, Hunter had to seek Patagonia's sign off, as well. Patagonia is looking for big name bands or newer bands that already have a buzz going about them. The company wants this project to be successful on all fronts and that means having music that Patagonia believes in and that people want to buy. It turns out the head of the project was a huge Civil Wars fan and loved the idea. Patagonia and the band then worked together to choose a song and a release date. One thing to note: The song has to be exclusive; it cannot be available anywhere else, and most chosen are live versions or demo songs that aren't on previously released albums.

The song, "Birds of a Feather (Live at the Ark),” was released on June 23 and can be found here. Hunter says it is too soon to tell the outcome of his work, but he has tried hard to get the word out about this effort. He sent press releases to his local weekly newspapers and posted the link on social networking sites. He also wants to keep the relationship with the band going and is hoping to set up an information table at their upcoming concert in Knoxville.

If you are interested in pursuing this project, Hunter offers some advice:

This can be time consuming work and could take awhile to come to fruition. You are working with a busy band's schedule and management.

Establish a relationship with the band or artist and make sure that the partnership will be mutually beneficial. You should ask yourself what the band will get out of this project.

When you send your proposal to the band, be honest, enthusiastic and passionate about the band and your cause. Hopefully, you soon will be making beautiful music together.