When Zach Becker saw the devastation from last month’s tornado in Joplin, he knew he had to do something to help. Less than two weeks later, Becker has created and released “Songs for #Joplin.”
Born on Twitter and adopting the Twitter hashtag style for its title, ”Songs for #Joplin” (@songsforjoplin) features 18 independent artists and is available for free at songsforjoplin.com. Donations are encouraged; all money from the album goes to the Heart of Missouri United Way and will be directed to recovery efforts in Joplin.
Benefit albums are not new — Linkin Park created a similar Music for Relief sampler in 2005 to help victims of a tsunami in the Indian Ocean. That project is now collecting donations to help with the earthquake and tsunami recovery in Japan.
"I desperately wanted to help but I’m unemployed so money isn’t exactly my strong suit," Becker said. Two days after the tornado struck, he turned to Twitter with his idea for a sampler.
"I just tweeted to my 300-plus followers, asking them to spread the word," said Becker, @docmisterio on Twitter. The responses and retweets poured in “faster than my iPhone could tell me about them.”
Artists also began volunteering to participate.
"The initial blast of songs that came into my email was about 35 or so," Becker said. "I didn’t, and couldn’t, pick everyone who submitted a song. There are a couple of big ‘gets’ for me personally: Waterdeep and Derek Webb happen to be two of my favorite bands/acts."
To quickly put the project together, Becker has had help from Webb, who co-owns music distribution site noisetrade.com where the album is published, and friend Sam Wade (@samwade). Within 24 hours of its Friday morning release, the sampler had collected $1,000 in donations. Word has spread primarily through social media.
"Our first day we had lots of people talk about and/or retweet us," Becker said. "I never expected any of this; I simply just wanted to make a difference to a hurting community where I couldn’t personally make a difference. Initially, my thought was ‘Man, that would be awesome if I could just get $1,000 or something — that would be $1,000 they didn’t have before.’ But since this thing has started picking up traction and I’ve been doing interviews, I’m optimistically hoping for $10,000 or more."