To the outside world, the electronic music culture is frowned upon. We are constantly criticized throughout popular culture for drugs, deaths, loud music, etc. While these things do happen, the media often fails to portray the positive things that come out of this community. There are organizations and individuals in this community who are trying to make a positive impact on society. Take for instance the story of a rising 501(c)3 nonprofit organization called the Electronic Music Alliance, founded in 2010. Janine Jordan, her husband Ken, and best friend Monica Salazar started the Electronic Music Alliance (EMA) to “organize around issues important to the electronic dance music community such as health, safety, greening, and giving back to our local communities.” EMA provides education about such issues, creates programs that offer fun and effective solutions, and provides us with opportunities to give back.
All three founders have been fighting for this dance music community for years. Janine and Monica have been listening to dance music and raving since the 90s, while Ken is ½ of the 2-time Grammy nominated electronic duo, The Crystal Method. TCM helped pioneer and laid groundwork for the success of our dance music scene in the United States and their first album “Keep Hope Alive” was an anthem to keep the rave scene’s spirits up as the LA scene was constantly under fire from the authorities in the mid-90s.
Growing up, Janine Jordan lived a pretty typical life. She was raised in San Diego (which is a little more conservative area for California) and pursued the American Dream. She believed some of the most important things in life involved materialistic things such as having a well-paying job, driving a nice car, and eventually starting a family. She was fairly sheltered and did not experience much of the “outside” world. After graduating high school, she went onto the University of San Diego to study business administration with emphases on real estate and finance. She had no intentions of starting a nonprofit.
In 2006, Janine had a life changing experience. For the first time in her life she embarked on a journey to the beautiful island of Costa Rica. As a real estate agent, Janine went down there to represent someone’s property and sell a large quantity of it. In essence, she had the idea that she could excavate the landscape and use it to build homes instead. Oh, and of course she would have made a fine profit from the construction of these new homes. However, this was not the case. While in Costa Rica, she realized how beautiful it was and saw how things could be here in the United States if we just took better care of our land and environment. We need to consider how just about everything we do affects the environment and planet. There are so many toxins in the atmosphere that can be prevented by small measures. This is also the time when she realized money certainly is not everything.
Upon her return to California, she began following environmental charities and soon realized that she wanted to create her own nonprofit. And…Green Wave was born. At first, she did not know what route to take with her nonprofit other than to create awareness. There are many factors to consider – what type, how would it be governed, and what would be the organization’s exact mission for example.
In 2007, she went to see legendary electronic duo, The Crystal Method in concert, where she met Ken Jordan for the first time. The two had a lot in common and clicked right away. They are a powerhouse couple. After meeting Ken, Janine finally realized the main focus of her organization: education. The two, along with Janine’s best friend, Monica Salazar (co-founder and Executive Director of EMA) sat down one day and realized that they all needed to do something within their own network. They have so many connections and wanted to utilize them.
So they took to the dance music industry. At first, they wanted to work with DJs and nonprofits – using The Crystal Method to their benefit and hosting charity events that would feature different nationally renowned DJs/producers. They quickly realized that they would then be seen as a booking agency, which was not their goal. Finally, they came to the conclusion that the music industry should create some standards when it comes to environmental initiatives at music festivals and smaller concerts as well. There is clearly a need for it, especially when you look at festival grounds once the event is over.
Since our electronic music scene is often bashed in traditional media, EMA wants to empower each of us to be The Sound of Change – to be a part of something bigger. Janine thought to herself, “If we get industry people to collaborate with fans then we can all pay it forward.” [Today, EMA calls this collaboration between fans and the industry Play it Forward (often written as #PlayitFWD)]. In 2010, they decided to expand their Green Wave initiative into something more profound and launched the Electronic Music Alliance. To summarize, its mission is simply to channel positive energy within and outside the dance music community. EMA has served as an awakening for this scene as it challenges us to become aware of certain issues including health, safety, greening, and giving back to our local communities.
For instance, EMA partnered with Disco Donnie Presents for Sunset Music Festival 2014 to conduct Planet SMF. They formed different structures on the festival grounds including a solar-charging station. Additionally, EMA formed a coalition of organizations that focused on harm reduction. For example, they created a “party pledge”, which was inspired by tragic events that occurred throughout the previous festival season. This “party pledge” along with other harm reduction initiatives was created to encourage festivalgoers to take care of one another, party responsibly, have zero tolerance for violence, and respect the staff and nature of the festival grounds. According to Janine, we need to educate everyone who comes into the “rave” scene about our culture and how important it is to society.
Initially, EMA focused its efforts on creating a robust industry network. They have established enough of a foundation so that they can now focus on reaching out to college students and festivalgoers. They are finally getting to a place where they can accommodate people who want to lend a hand. Eventually, they want this organization to be a “people’s” organization and to represent the entire dance music community. They want our EDM community to come to know EMA as the charity for the EDM scene.
Positive energy is extremely important to the Electronic Music Alliance. While growing up, Janine had always struggled with her identity. She had the illusion that living the American Dream was the key to happiness. She suffered from depression and bulimia. Fortunately, she was able to overcome these challenges by maintaining a positive attitude. She also attributes the rave scene to helping her because it provided her with a healthy and fulfilling escape. She can now empathize with those of us who have experienced a depressed state or a lost identity and can only encourage us to get through the challenge.
There are a lot of stages that are involved in finding our way in life. Anger. Sadness. Burnout. Happiness. Since EMA is about channeling positive energy, they want to eventually address these stages by sharing inspirational stories of people who have overcome adversity. Once EMA impacts one person, then it becomes a domino effect. We all have overcome some form of adversity in our own lives so it is important that we share our unique situations and stories with one another.
With that being said, I encourage all of you to do the following…
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi