When I first saw the original Playing for Change video Stand By Me on YouTube I was moved and fascinated and jumped for joy. Wow. As a music lover and collector of social media success stories, here was both music and social media triumphantly on display and coming together to support a good cause. I talked up the videos via social and in person to everyone I saw.
Stand By Me now has 37 million views on YouTube and has sparked a movement. Now, Playing for Change has 15 videos in the Songs Around the World series with a combined 140 million views. If you haven't seen a Playing for Change video yet, please watch their version of Bob Marley's One Love.
I had the honor of meeting Mark Johnson, the leader and inspiration behind the Playing for Change movement at the NAMM show this weekend where I delivered a talk. He says: "Create inspiration and let it take care of itself."
Who would have thought that one person with a good idea could bypass traditional channels of getting attention (major record labels and mainstream media) and simply through the power of social media create an organization from scratch. In this short interview, I ask Mark about how he came up with the idea for Playing for Change and why YouTube was essential for its success to date.
Mark also created a separate non-profit organization called the Playing For Change Foundation which builds music schools for children around the world.
Learning from Playing for Change
In a world where marketers and PR people are still mainly focused on the traditional big budget mainstream approach to gaining attention, Mark shows us how a good idea can catch on as people share one to another on the social web.
If you are trying to start an organization from scratch it is nearly impossible to do so within the established system of your industry. Want to make a movie? Good luck getting funding from the majors (who will want to sue bloggers who talk it up anyway as the whole SOPA/PIPA nonsense showed). You’ve got to just get it done and get it out and see what happens. Same for music, or books, or software, or any other endeavor: Do it well, get it out, and go social.