Music has been described as many things—the universal language of mankind; a constant companion; the expressionist when you can’t express your feelings; a personal refuge. But perhaps the greatest depiction of music is when it is deemed powerful to bind people together, most especially in difficult situations.How many times have we heard how the biggest artists of the world united to record songs for a cause?
How many times have we heard how the biggest artists of the world united to record songs for a cause?
“Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure’s “Band Aid” sold millions of copies to help end famine in Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985. In 1985 Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and 45 other pop stars recorded “We Are the World “ for “USA for Africa” campaign. The same song was reprised in 2010 for the benefit of the magnitude 7 earthquake victims in Haiti.
The Philippines itself has seen the power of music most recently when local artists gathered to stage concerts and gigs to raise funds and relief goods for the survivors of 2013’s Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
It is all these magnanimous efforts that inspired a social enterprise called Purplejamm that gathers independent or unsigned music artists for various advocacies.
“Music has always been used to help causes; one concert, one song, one album at a time. Whenever there’s a disaster somewhere, artists tend to dedicate music or concerts or work to help those in need,” said Jimmy Sta. Maria, one of the founding members of Purplejamm.
The company, whose concept began taking shape as far back as 2007, was finally formalized in the United States in 2011, with the cooperation of foreign and Filipino investors. How it works is that for every sale of a song through its website www.purplejamm.com, 50 percent will go to identified charities and beneficiaries.
“We are basically institutionalizing the use of music to help worthy causes. What this means is that every song uploaded in Purplejamm helps a cause every time,” Sta. Maria pointed out.
As of this writing there are about 70 songs live and available for download on the site. These songs range from kundiman to pop, and reggae and rap to rock. Purplejamm has almost covered every musical genre, except for hip hop. Sta. Maria further shared that they are currently working to release 300 more songs.
“Our vision is that if you’re an artist and you want to help somebody, whether you are from Africa or wherever, you can dedicate a song as a gift to whoever your beneficiaries are, like street children for instance. So the concept is that you [the artist]give them a song, dedicate a song for them and sell it, so that part of the money goes to them,” Sta. Maria shared.
“There are so many artists in the whole world and not all of them want fame, fortune or recognition. So many of these artists don’t know where or for what to use their work, so with Purplejamm, we are creating a more meaningful channel for them,” he added. “But at the same time, Purplejamm wants to also ensure that artists earn something, so in this way, we return to them whatever they deserve.”
Unsigned artists who wish to contribute songs can send their original materials to Purplejamm, which will then validate the authenticity to avoid copyright infringements. If a song passed the test, the enterprise will publish it at the website for a year and only after that period can the artist bring it to wherever he wishes.
Sta. Maria, a musician himself, continued that there may be instances when they will look for artists to record original tracks composed by him or his team. If such is the case, Purplejamm will perpetually own the song while the artists are freed to make their own careers in the music industry.
Sta. Maria proudly shared how one of their artists is now a Berklee College of Music scholar, and another part of The Ryan Cayabyab Singers.
“Purplejamm will never tie them down with a contract, but, the songs will remain with the company,” he emphasized. “And for the record, we do not accept songs with explicit content.”
Purplejamm’s current beneficiaries and partner companies include ABS-CBN Foundation, Grace Communion International (a Christian organization present in 120 countries), Radio Veritas, Kids of Hope (a foundation in Davao that helps street kids afflicted with cancer and major diseases), and Batang Pinangga (a Catholic orphanage), among many others.
Moreover, to help Purplejamm manage the charitable foundations they identified, they also set up Humanage Foundation.
“Purplejamm’s primary role is to produce music and gather as many worthy beneficiaries for the proceeds of the songs. But managing the artists, collecting payments and then distributing them among the artists, producers, charitable foundations is the function of Humanage,” explained Humanage’s Rommel Roque.
“The Philippines is basically a pilot model for this concept. Our vision is for artists from all over the world to contribute to worthy causes through their songs,” Sta. Maria reiterated.
Asked why they chose to call their unique company Purplejamm, its founder explained, “Purple is the color of creativity for artists. And of course ‘jamm’ is from the word jamming.
Purplejamm partners with The Manila Times College
As a company that supports worthy causes, Purplejamm has reached out to The Manila Times College—a premiere journalism school managed by the country’s oldest English daily—to send journalism scholars to school.
Under Purplejamm’s concept, indie songs will be devoted to raising funds for deserving journalism scholars, who in turn will contribute articles to the website. The articles will feature musicians, developments in the indie music scene including, music festivals and concerts, or and other related materials that would be of interest to Purplejamm’s website visitors.