Eric Stone got his first look at the music industry as the original keyboard player of Four Year Strong. After his time with the band he went on to Berklee College of Music to earn a Master's Certificate in Music Business. Upon completion, Eric joined Open Your Eyes Records and started The EDS Agency with his former business partner and current FATA Booking employee Erick Droegmoeller. Since this time he has started a new company called Cloud City Syndicate, and has done management and consultation work for I Call Fives, Born Without Bones, We Still Dream, Challenges, The Hotel Year, Handguns, Kory Gable, A Phoenix Forever, Linden, Broken Rim Records, and Rhymesayers Entertainment amongst many more.
Recently he was brought on board with a great non-profit called PeaceTones (www.PeaceTones.org) to help spread the word about the organization. I recently spoke to Eric about his involvement with PeaceTones, what they've got going on, and how people can help.
1. Can you give a small mission statement on Peace Tones?
Our mission is to help find a solution to poverty by supporting talented and hardworking artists living in remote and developing communities through the use of digital media and e-commerce. We strive to achieve this in the following ways:
· By uniting legal, technical, and business expertise to help musicians in frontier countries obtain economic and legal equality
· By promoting peace, human rights, and the alleviation of poverty
· By improving communities in developing areas of the world
· By guiding musicians in learning how to access legal resources and the global market place
· By teaching different communities how to build their own economic bridges, access available global resources, and resolve their own disputes.
· By setting up online businesses for artists across the world
· By promoting them through social networking sites and sell their work online in order to send revenues back into the community
2. How did you get involved with PeaceTones?
I have a lot of interest in the use of technology in music distribution, so I was aiming to take a class at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst that focused on Law & the WWW. I sent the professor of the class an e-mail to see if I could register. He happened to be the founder of the International Bar Organization, and PeaceTones is an initiative of the IBO. He noted the bands I was working with in my e-mail signature. We exchanged a few messages about what I do, and ended up having a meeting with the Executive Director of PeaceTones. I was very interested in working with the organization because it unites pretty much everything I love in this world. Music, community, social justice, technology, and marketing. I am thrilled to have been brought on board with the organization.
3. What does an organization like PeaceTones mean to these musicians in underdeveloped countries?
When you buy a PeaceTones album, 90% of the amount you pay for the album goes back to the artists who created it. Of that 90%, a certain percentage (negotiated and agreed-to by the artists and PeaceTones) is invested by the artists back into their communities through development projects. The remaining 10% of the money helps PeaceTones with marketing the artists, finding new artists to support, and helps cover our day-to-day administrative costs, in combination with grant funding.
We offer these musicians the opportunity to make music their career, while giving back to their community. It is a chance to be heard, to play in front of crowds, and to have their music touch the hearts of people that would otherwise not get the opportunity. That is really what every musician wants.. To be heard, and to impact others.
4. What has been your favorite or most proud moment with PeaceTones?
I'm quite fortunate to have been given this opportunity. I take pride in having a role in the mission of PeaceTones. I love that PeaceTones not only had an idea, an ambitious one at that, but they followed through.. Traveling all over the world, setting up workshops, assisting in building music careers. That's what I do here in the states, and I take similar pride in seeing my artists play in front of enthusiastic crowds. I love knowing that I am apart of something that is changing lives for the better, and helping people to live their dream. A lot of people have the desire to work in the music industry, but don't know where to get started. Compared to the rest of the world, we have it easy in the United States.. Imagine you're in Sierra Leone and want a career in music? Where do you start?
Just like in the states, it helps to have a mentor or someone to guide your path. Having the opportunity to do that in the states and internationally through PeaceTones' work makes me infinitely grateful and fortunate.
5. How did you pick Wanito to win the contest?
Wanito is a twenty-two year-old musician, who has chosen to be a full-time musician in his hometown of Port-au-Prince. He heard about a contest that was being put on by PeaceTones in Port-au-Prince through a television interview with our Executive Director, Ruha Devanesan, and came to audition with us. According to Ruha, Wanito was selected from around sixty auditioners because of his amazing voice. He was called back with 19 others to perform three songs for the contest, all of which were video-recorded to be released on Facebook through PeaceTones’ contest page. Facebook users from all over the world, including France, Belgium and the Dominican Republic, voted on the twenty musicians from September through December, and Wanito won decisively, over other talented musicians performing everything from gospel music to traditional Haitian drumming to rap. PeaceTones set up the contest to be a completely public decision-making process so that the winner of the contest would be someone the fans, not the non-profit, chose.
6. What are future projects for Peace Tones?
PeaceTones aims to work in at least one new country each year. Our reach really depends on the funding we receive from donations, merchandise and grants, however, and we hope, by ramping up all of these income sources, to be able to visit two or three countries a year!
7. How can people help out with Peace Tones?
If you're in a band and you'd like to get involved, you should definitely send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether it be tweeting, blogging, Facebook mentions, handing out stickers at shows, offering an exclusive track to benefit the organization, or you want to become involved in another capacity.. We'd be more than happy to have you aboard.
To music fans and those that support the cause, you can do a lot of the same. You can tweet about @PeaceTones, Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peacetones, share us with your friends, check out our artists albums at www.peacetones.bandcamp.com, head to www.peacetones.org and buy a t-shirt, or even just donate. Everything that you do helps to further this cause. Likewise, if you'd like to become involved with PeaceTones send an e-mail to email@example.com, we'd love to have you as part of the community!
We've got Wanito, the winner of our Haiti Sings competition, coming to the States this month, and you can check out those dates below. In addition, follow us on twitter at @peacetones and view some videos at www.youtube.com/peacetonesworld.
Thanks a ton for your time, and for helping to spread the word about what we do. For anyone interested in helping out, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org!
April 21st at 9pm: Bull McCabe’s w/ Scotch Bonnet Band, 366 Somerville Ave.,
April 22nd at 10pm: Tufts University, Hotung Café, 44 Professor’s Row, Medford, MA
April 25th at 9pm: The Beehive w/ Sarah Brindell, 541 Tremont St., Boston, MA
April 27th at 7pm: UMass Amherst w/ The Hotel Year, Grad Lounge, 1 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA
April 28th at 6pm: The French Cultural Center, 53 Marlborough St., Boston, MA
April 28th at 9pm: Bella Luna Milky Way w/ Zili Misik, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain,
April 29th at 11pm: Sounds of Brazil w/ Tabou Combo, 204 Varick St., New York, NY 10014