songs for good

Songs for Good: Music as a Power Tool for Civic-Engagement and Community Building

In addition to the COVID-19 outbreak, protests around the world had recently gathered from all parts of the globe to mourn over the ruthless deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and thousands of others who deserve justice. There’s no questioning this: a lot has happened in the past three months. Despite this, the sense of community & strength has been inspiring and empowering. And within the music community, many people are finding ways to contribute in providing their support the best way they know how to — through music, itself. Gigmor has partnered up with Songs for Good — a nonprofit songwriting contest that focuses on highlighting & amplifying the concept of civic engagement leading up to the 2020 Election (and throughout the forthcoming years, in general). We’ve recently had a virtual chitter-chatter with Co-Creator of the organization, Nate Dewart, about the primary objectives of the platform in addition to the goals he and the rest of his team has in store.

Especially during these crucial times, we see that one of your goals is promoting the idea of “bringing out your voice” in this contest. Let’s get a re-cap on what’s important to you and your organization as well as its mission, vision, and values?

Nate: Absolutely! Our mission is to amplify civic engagement movements in 2020. We wanted to amplify this sense of pro-democracy and encourage youth-led music-engagement movements through music as our main medium. With this songwriting contest, we aim to evaluate these submissions and choose the winning contestant’s piece and get that produced & promoted with all of our partners like Gigmor! We felt like this would serve as a great fuel in getting people to participate — especially during this pivotal moment of the year of this anti-racism awakening that we’re going through. This platform can help serve as a coalition: we build the foundation up, and we get it up and running from there!

How are you currently measuring the success of a submission?

Nate: For our criteria, we’re looking at their submission based on these three criteria: 

1) A piece that’s universal amongst all.

2) Something that can be easily learned.

3) Something that is found inspiring & powerful. 

For as long as music has been around, we’ve seen that it has a long tradition of fueling participation within all of these communities, and we find music as a key element to establishing movements throughout the globe. And you can find all these different types of music in many forms — from grassroots to church gospel and etc. You can use such simple tactics like creating a simple beat with your hands, or building up a simple chant that reflects the thoughts & concerns of a community, and it’s really amazing to see those simple tactics create a ripple effect that bonds people to fight for something that can further unify a group of people. In terms of the submissions revolving around the theme of pro-democracy, we wanted to leave this as an open interpretation for our contestants as they’re creating their pieces. We get these amazing inputs from all of our artists, and we eventually create this as an output for our neighboring organizations. 

Now, we’ve noticed that you’ve extended the deadline for these submissions up to July 15th. Even so, we’re wondering how do you plan on using your platform once the contest ends? Is this something that you and your team are planning on working as time runs forward? 

Nate: We created this contest with the primary focus on the 2020 presidential election; however, we also see this project as something that’s continuously evolving, and even when this contest ends, we plan on disseminating these winning submissions amongst our movement partners, our music/creative partners, and many more platforms within the music & civic-engagement communities that are willing to share these submissions. And especially seeing how songs have so many benefits for people — both formally and informally — we find it important that we share these pieces to bring upon more of an awareness of the current matters at hand in addition to empowering people who feel like they have a lack of representation. 

How are you currently driving traffic on your platform at the moment?

Nate: As mentioned for the previous question, we plan on sharing this with our partners and other platforms that are willing to help us share these submissions; however, we also have a team of incredibly empowering advisors that are promoting this contest, and we also share this across all of our social media platforms:

As we build on these social media platforms, we’re also looking for more Review Panelists that would be willing to work alongside us with this mission. We also have a mailing list our subscribers can, well, subscribe to! This mailing list not only provides songwriting updates & inspiration but for any general updates to our 2020 Challenge. 

As we share this through all these mediums, we’re emphasizing the concept of policy-making and we’re working on making that connection through music in order to make that connection with our fellow music organizations in order to move forward with this. We’re focused on making these grassroots connections with the mainstream culture we have today, and we’re reminding people that we’re aiming to bring the music forward with this sense of purpose in these pieces. 

This is all exciting to hear & learn about! Now to dive a little bit more internally: how do you build and develop talent & elevate people to be at their very best? How does the company continue to invest and grow people to be at their very best as you’re promoting this contest together?

Nate: What’s really great about this team is that everyone comes in with shared values. Given that this platform is all voluntary work, it’s really amazing to see this shared drive & set of values amongst the entire team. And with everyone’s shared interests, it’s definitely helped us build this strong connection between us as a team while we’re working together on this one goal — this goal of knowing that something amazing can come out of this and the fact that we all know how purpose-driven music can be and how it connects people on a deeper scale.

And lastly, we wanted to leave room for anything you would like to add? Every piece of input is highly valued, and we want to thank you for the time to do a deep-dive on SOG!

Nate: I just want to mention how I always find it intriguing that music can be constructed in a variety of ways, yet it can drive towards one specific design or one specific reason. I think this platform is a great way to re-invigorate all these styles of music as a means of community-building and putting a powerful sense of intention behind it. And thanks for this chat! Highly enjoyed it. 

Do you have any thoughts, suggestions, or comments you would like to share with Gigmor or with Songs For Good? What do you think about music being used as a vehicle to drive this passion for community-building? Leave your comments and question down below!

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