Founded as a political action committee in February 2003 and run largely by volunteers, Music for America (MFA) described itself as “a membership-based nonprofit organization that partners with artists, bands, fans, venues, record stores, and music communities to revolutionize how 15-to-30-year-old Americans engage in politics.”
Toward that end, during the 2004 election cycle MFA collaborated with more than 300 musicians in an effort to increase young people’s involvement in the political process. MFA’s volunteer members attended some 2,400 of these performers’ concerts, where they (the volunteers) engaged in “peer-to-peer outreach.” Specifically, they sought to “engage” their peers in “political conversation” and “educate” them on “issues relevant to their lives.”
For example, MFA volunteers alleged that the Bush administration’s tax cuts were driving up tuition costs and thus were reducing the amount of financial aid available to American college students. “We are pointing out the issues with immediate consequences for our generation,” said MFA co-founder Mike Connery. “We find that these types of issues serve as jumping-off points for a larger conversation about political participation.”
One of MFA’s major initiatives was its get-out-the-vote campaign. The organization’s volunteers distributed (to concert-goers) packages containing multiple voter-registration forms, in hopes that the recipients would pass them along to any of their friends and relatives who were still unregistered. The volunteers also passed out informational postcards about political issues of concern to the young fans in attendance — the most notable of those issues being: media consolidation, the drug war, higher education, environmentalism, youth service funding, and “the war on terror” [sneer quotes by MFA].
Shortly before election day of 2004, MFA instructed each of its members to call ten acquaintances, urge them to vote, and tell them precisely where their respective polling places were located.
MFA also promoted the websites MyPollingPlace.com, which detailed precisely where each zip code’s local polling place was situated, and Voterx.com, which encouraged young people to do whatever they could to participate in the election process (e.g. they could organize car pools to transport voters to their polling places).
Though officially “non-partisan,” MFA was firmly in the camp of the Democrats.
MFA was co-founded by the aforementioned Michael Connery as well as Dan Droller and Franz Hartl. Six additional individuals — Kevin Collinsworth, Josh Koenig, Rachel Postman, Nica Lorber, Taya Mueller, and Molly Neitzel — subsequently joined the three founders and became part of MFA’s leadership core. Disappointed that the widespread anti-war protests of 2002 and 2003 had failed to prevent a U.S. invasion of Iraq, MFA’s nine leaders were strongly supportive of anti-war candidate Howard Dean’s effort to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for the 2004 presidential election.
In 2004, MFA conducted a get-out-the-vote campaign on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
“In 2006, Music For America and young voters are poised to prove that record-breaking [voter] turnout [in 2004] was not a fluke but a trend to be continued. The conservative movement has been congregating voters every Sunday for years, and now MFA is reaching the progressive young people who congregate every night in every city and every venue across the nation.”
This trend, said MFA, was helping to drive “a noticeable cultural shift” in the United States.
In December 2007, MFA closed down its operations due to a lack of funding. Its core members merged with the League of Young Voters.