OneReasonRecordings: Creating Miracles
A Bear, A Child, and a Red Balloon- OneReasonRecordings’ 2014 “Miracles Campaign” is raising funds for The Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. The campaign focuses on modern day miracles of medicine, and ORR has created a compilation music album based on the theme of miracles. All proceeds made from the album is donated to the Children’s Medical Center. After hearing personal stories from patients and families at Children’s, the ORR worked to partner with the medical center in hoping to assist in its vision of “giving children tomorrow.” However, beyond this year’s campaign, OneReasonRecordings has been creating miracles for various charities around the nation since its founding.
OneReasonRecordings is a non profit organization that raises funds for social justice issues through music. “Our mission is to visualize a better world through service and the arts,” says Founder and CEO Johnathan Chen. Partnering with artists around the world, the organization creates compilation albums each year that focus on specific social justice themes. Through their albums, they not only raise awareness for social justice issues, but they also donate their proceeds to charities that actively work to better a specific cause.
Chen started the organization in 2012 with his brother and a close friend when he saw the homelessness around him as he walked to class during his freshman year at New York University. “I started noticing that people were walking past not giving any attention. Most people were on their headphones, listening to music in their own little world. So I thought, what if we could use the people plugging into their own worlds, utilize that behavior, and make it into something more positive. I started thinking from that point on: music and social justice.” Clueless on the specifics of the music industry and the logistics of sharing music, the three began with countless hours of research and brainstorming. They pitched their ideas to charities and artists, and secured a partnership with Charity: Water and five artists for their first compilation album Collecting Droplets. ORR raised $5000 dollars for Charity: Water, a nonprofit organization that brings clean water to developing nations.
The campaigns could not be possible without the musical artists. Artists send in their original songs during a submission period from January to May of each year while ORR promotes their campaign theme and charity. Once submissions are in and the artists are chosen, the album is put together, promoted, and sold for the rest of the year. ORR asks a couple criteria of its artists. First, the song cannot include any explicit topics or words. Although the organization mainly caters to university students because they feel students are more willing to try new music, ORR wishes to make their records acceptable to all ages. Secondly, the organization asks the artist to pitch the story behind his or her song and how it relates to the campaign of the year. “We want something with meaning that we can tell people who want to know more about the music and the story behind it” says Chen.
Actor and singer-songwriter Mara Measor is a storyteller. Describing her music as pop-folk, Measor says she naturally loves to tell stories through her songs in the folk tradition. Her vision of music being a force in society led her to collaborate with OneReasonRecordings in their “Homes” campaign. Measor’s song “Spinning Around” was written about her experiences going to Penn Station in New York City and inviting the homeless to eat with her on various occasions. “Often I feel in the middle of some nightmare spiral that I want to escape. I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that, and in those times, the last thing I believe is ‘I’ll be fine.’ I think of the guys I meet at Penn [Station] when I sing this song.” Measor believes in OneReasonRecording’s mission, and through her music, she hopes to let her listeners know that they are not alone.
Although most songs are sent to ORR professionally recorded by the artist, ORR does offer to assist the artist in recording his or her song at a home studio. Furthermore, as a supporter of independent artists, OneReasonRecordings also collaborates with artists to create side projects of the artist’s own music without the contract stress of record labels. In an all inclusive package, the organization helps market, master, produce, and mix the artist’s work. In return, ORR asks for a small percentage of the profits from the artists’ album or single to go back to the organization. The profits are used to continue to fund other independent artists.
Originally a three person project has turned into an organization with 30 staff workers consisting of young professionals and students. As a relatively small organization, ORR considers it’s staff vital to every project and campaign. The staff gather together to discuss charities and social justice themes for each year. Each member has equal say in every aspect of the organization. ORR wants to allow their staff to utilize what they are interested in and to use their talents to make a real world impact. Director of Social Media Samantha Chong has been on the staff for over a year and has just finished her first campaign with OneReasonRecordings. On how she hopes to impact the organization, Chong says, “I am genuinely interested in seeing how music can shape lives in ways that I could never have imagined. I really would like to spread the word about ORR as much as possible, because I know that a lot of people identify with our mission.”
As ORR comes close to its third year anniversary, the organization is working to change its image further beyond music and towards different forms of art. With OneReasonRecordings as the overall branch of the organization, the staff is currently working to create subdivisions of art that will each promote various social justice issues. Chen says he sees the organization growing to highlight individuals with diverse talents and passions. “We have all these incredible staff members with different passions. We love the music we’re producing, but we feel like we can do more. We are delving into these other aspects of art and media. We’re going to use different elements. Not just music, but we’re going to go into visual art, film, publication, writing and photography to help more social justice themes. We want to create art that has a purpose.”