MEGADETH is among the artists that have joined forces with the nonpartisan voter registration group HeadCount to sign up new voters at their concerts this year. HeadCount's army of volunteers will stage voter registration drives at over 1,000 concerts this year, with a goal or registering at least 100,000 voters.
The non-profit group will have a presence at every U.S. concert on the DAVE MATTHEWS BAND, JACK JOHNSON and JOHN MAYER summer tours. "I believe we all have a responsibility to make our voices heard where we can, and encourage others to do the same," said Dave Matthews. "We have worked with HeadCount since its beginning, and are very glad to see that other artists are now supporting the organization." HeadCount registered 12,161 voters at DAVE MATTHEWS BAND shows in the summer of 2004, an all-time record for a single concert tour.
"I can't think of a better reason to put on a concert than to bring people together to create positive change," said Jack Johnson, who recently launched a social action campaign called All at Once. "Registering to vote is a key component to our All At Once message and we are very excited to have HeadCount on tour with us."
HeadCount is the only national organization focused on registering voters at concerts, and will stage the largest event-based voter registration drive in the U.S. "There's a deep connection between music and politics that we are trying to harness," said Andy Bernstein, Executive Director of HeadCount. "Youth turnout more than doubled in the primaries. The same young people who go to concerts are turning out to the polls in record numbers."
HeadCount volunteer "street teams" can already be seen at concerts throughout the U.S., signing up voters on the recent FOO FIGHTERS and WILCO tours, and at ANI DIFRANCO and MEGADETH concerts this month. "Welcoming HeadCount is something we, as artists, can do to make a difference," said Colin Meloy of THE DECEMBERISTS, who has been hosting HeadCount volunteers on his current solo tour.
HeadCount will also send voter registration teams to more than a dozen major festivals including The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Virgin Festival, and Farm Aid. The organization has registered 60,000 voters in the last four years, through a force of several thousand volunteers spread throughout the U.S. It first gained acclaim when former GRATEFUL DEAD guitarist Bob Weir, who sits on the organization's board of directors, broke years of stage silence and began stepping to the microphone each night to implore fans to visit HeadCount tables and register to vote.
Since then, HeadCount has diversified its lineup and looked more toward mainstream acts that appeal to the target demographic of 18 to 29 year olds, such as college rock phenomenon O.A.R. who became affiliated with HeadCount in 2006. The organization also remains aligned with dozens grassroots-oriented artists who have been involved since the beginning, including GOV'T MULE and MOE. Marc Brownstein, bass player for the popular electronic rock band THE DISCO BISCUITS, helped found the organization in 2004, and remains its co-chair.
"We've seen this develop from just being an idea to something that has widespread support across the entire music industry," said Brownstein. "We're working with small acts, huge acts, and everything in between, but the common thread is that all of them have very strong connections with their fans. That's something we tap to get entire communities thinking about voting and registering to vote."