HeadCount Launches What’s Your Issue?: Interview With Bernstein and Brownstein

Andy Bernstein: I couldn’t say it better myself. The real point here is that this isn’t a change, this is something we’ve been excited about for many years. This idea that our community has as much potential as any other large community to be influential, to be active, to have its voice heard and actually affect what’s going on. The truth is we have a lot more potential, because we have an ingredient that others don’t have. We have leaders in the form of musicians who are onstage at Red Rocks or Fenway Park in the same weekend.

Think about [a few weekends ago] Dave Matthews Band – big supporter of HeadCount, Phish – huge supporters of HeadCount, Disco Biscuits – formed HeadCount playing Fenway Park or Red Rocks and just think about the potential and many people have. You look around, you look at the energy, you look at the passion. If you channel that and organize that, what can you produce? And that’s HeadCount’s role, is to organize that.

The first step was we’ve got to get everybody voting we have got to get everybody to the base level of involvement. I think we’ve done a good job with that and I think our country as a whole has done a good job of getting people of all ages more engaged.  Now the question is what do we do with it?

Marc said it perfectly. It’s now a matter of what the people in office are going to do. We have to stay involved. Everybody’s jockeying now to be the priority. In the political world there’s only so much that’s going to get done. If the things that we care about as a community are going to get paid attention to we have to make our voice heard. A slogan for this year is make your voice heard everyday. Not just on election day. We’re out at the shows and we’re trying to make it really easy.

The whole idea of our campaign, our “What’s Your Issue?” campaign is to just make it so easy to get involved. Tell us what issue you care about and you’ll automatically be entered into a drawing for Outside Lands tickets, you’ll get free downloads on our website, you’ll get all these things for free just by saying what issue you care about.  And then we’re going to try to keep you informed. We’re going to find the people who really care deeply about these issues and give them opportunities to be leaders in their community and really, really make a difference.

: It’s important in collecting the information about what issues matter to people to give us the ability to get in touch with people specifically on the issues that they care about so we don’t have to be bogging your email box with information about Gulf Coast Recovery if really that’s not your issue.If all you really care about is the environment and sustainability then we can engage you on the environment and sustainability.

We want to help give people an outlet for change, change in government. Change in government doesn’t just mean changing the people who run the government but the way that they run it. There’s just so many walls built up in terms of making things really move forward.


AB: Something that’s important is that not only are we going to inform people, we’re going to present opportunities for action. At a concert, for example, you can write a letter to congress and we’ll give you a free raffle ticket to win merchandise. Little simple ideas to encourage people to get engaged.

On our website we have all sorts of information organized by issue. If you’re interested in Gulf Coast Recovery, which is one of our issues, we list all the organizations that you can go into the gulf or into New Orleans that you can volunteer with. So we’re spreading that kind of information right into the music scene.

Whether it’s our core bands or going out with NIN/Janes Addiction, we’re taking something that started totally within the festival community and brought it to a much broader audience. That’s always exciting when something that started within the jam scene spreads beyond. We’re proud that we’ve been accepted by these bands which kinda follows the model of Bonnaroo of building on a core and then going very diverse and really bringing in a lot of different tastes and ideas. That’s a big part of where HeadCount is right now…

: It’s interesting that you mention Bonnaroo, Andy. In following the model of Bonnaroo in terms of starting with a core and spreading out, you almost have to give credit in a lot of ways to Bonnaroo for being the people who spread the wings of the jamband community to include bands like Death Cab For Cutie because Death Cab For Cutie isn’t completely clueless as to what our community is all about now because they go to Bonnaroo and Bonnaroo is engaging all these acts from all over the spectrum of genres of music and that really makes our job easier.

I’ve never really thought of it before or put it into words but it’s so helpful for all of these bands to see what this community is all about it. What the grassroots community is all about. How you can put 80,000 people in a field in the middle of nowhere.  Everybody’s heard of Woodstock but it’s interesting to see it in the modern day with modern bands from every genre coming together. In a lot of ways it’s what HeadCount is all about. Bringing it all together.

: It just gets to this idea that something that started with the music most familiar to us is very powerful in a lot of different ways and can spread very much beyond a few bands or a few people. It has artistic implications and it also potentially has political and social implications if it’s handled the right way. HeadCount is an organizing arm. We have teams in 35 cities around the country. We make it really easy for people to volunteer.

It’s so easy to volunteer for HeadCount. You go on the website, you put in your information and suddenly you start hearing about  shows you can go to for free as long as you’re willing to work and you’re passionate about what you’re doing.

Thanks to Andy and Marc for speaking to us about the next phase of HeadCount. Be sure to head over to HeadCount.org to fill out a quick survey about what issues matter most to you.

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