Corey McGuire likes music. He also wants to give back to people in need.
With help from a few friends, McGuire, a student Seattle Pacific University student, created a way to blend these passions into the website, Protosong which promotes local, independent music and offers advocacy for fighting global poverty.
The site offers a playlist of unreleased songs from independent Seattle artists available for download. Similar to Radiohead’s “pay-what-you-want” model, visitors to Protosong can choose what they want to pay for the playlist, with 70 percent of proceeds going to One Day’s Wages, a nonprofit that supports organizations around the world fighting extreme poverty. Artists on Protosong’s playlist receive 30 percent of website’s profits.
“Music is the ultimate form of social network. It’s the original one,” McGuire said. “People love sharing music, they do it every day. The question is how do we reach those contacts?”
The idea of building the site into a global charity was there from its inception, and spawned from apathy towards talking about problems and offering no solutions.
“We were tired of having conversations and we realized we needed to do something,” McGuire said.
The group hopes to raise $25,000 for charities that provide drinking clean water globally. So far, the group has sold 521 playlists totaling nearly $6,000 in donations. On average, visitors have spent $11 using the pay-what-you-want model.
Since launching, McGuire and his group have hosted several shows to promote the music and their causes. And the artists have largely been supportive, McGuire said.
“From day one it’s always been about charity,” McGuire said. “Every song has value and in the end it’s about the music. Artists tend to have large communities behind them, and their fans adopt their values.”