Music for all; Education for all

December 09, 2009

It’s not every day that you get to stand on the shoulders of giants, but that’s what it felt like last Tuesday when I was in SoHo, New York City, for the launch of VEVO. Up high in the Skylight Studios we caught a glimpse of the new music world we were entering. This was no small event. VEVO has the largest collection of free online music videos and is set to revolutionize how we watch music. Stars like Lady Gaga were going to perform live. Mariah Carey and 50Cent were premiering their new songs that night. Rihanna, Taylor Swift, John Legend were in the room. We were all excited, but that’s not why the room was electric. Amongst the colored lights, white sofas, and VIP guests, two rivals had come together: Universal and Sony. Two industries had come together: music and online. Two generations had come together: music moguls, like Clive Davis, Jimmy Iovine, Doug Morris, and Rolf Schmidt Holtz, who have defined the industry for decades, and Internet wunderkind Google, which is defining our online experience today. (As a personal aside, Jimmy is the man in the baseball cap with a huge heart and an uncanny instinct for where cultural trends are headed. In fact, in his own discreet way, he seems to be able to guide and nudge the cultural needle. He’s an honest up front guy who's never afraid to say it like it is and that's why the industry, especially the artists themselves, trusts him.) This was a landmark moment for any music lover. Whether you love the beats of the streets, rockin’ riffs, or that country music kick, this musical cousin to YouTube has it covered. Behind the scenes, though, was another name, equally embedded in music lore. A symbol of rock ‘n’ roll and a scourge of governments, I of course mean Bono. He was the one that got this unlikely gang together. Thank you, Bono, for inspiring a(nother) music miracle. But the evening was not just about two companies, two industries, two generations, (and an Irishman). This wasn’t a duet, it was a trio. The online and music worlds were joined by the world of football (or soccer, since I was in the US). That’s where I came in. I was there to speak about 1GOAL, which VEVO is generously promoting on its website. I’ll cut to the chase here, but if you want to read my remarks, you can find them on my website. 75 million children. That’s the long and short of it. 75 million children who will grow up not knowing how to read their own names… the signs around them… the instructions on life-saving medicine. Let me put that number in context for you. It’s four times the population of the state of New York!  The consequences of abandoning them ripple out into our own lives. Disease, destitution, violence: all grow stronger when we don’t provide education for all. The great news is the reverse is also true. The consequences of putting every child into school also cascade across the world. Health, prosperity, stability: now that’s a trio we all want to hear. 1GOAL is a big step towards this, and with VEVO’s help, we’ll reach our goal of 30 million signatures. With a global petition of this size, we can put pressure on governments to follow through on their pledges to give all children an education. I stepped away from the podium glad to have been part of this historic event. And the evening only got better, with live performances and never-before-seen music videos. Though, I have to say, John Mayer was a highlight for me and very funny. He ran us through his personal channel on VEVO and told us it was a good way to meet girls – I wouldn’t have thought he had any trouble being a famous musician! So, if you’re in the US or Canada, go and check out your favorite stars on VEVO and don’t forget to click on the 1GOAL logo. For the rest of us, VEVO will be available next year. In the meantime, you can always learn more about 1GOAL right here!