I would like to congratulate BarnabySaints, Gentleman HALL and Phillip Mangus Hartley for being the first Center Stage winners, a program started by The GRAMMYs® to connect aspiring musicians to Grammy-winning musicians. I was honored to be the first mentor in the Center Stage program and help select these artists. Find out more about the program at http://www.grammyamplifier.com/.
Many of you who visit mikeshinoda.com often know I’m passionate about helping new artists succeed. So it’s no surprise that I’m a part of two Grammy® programs right now, to do just that.
Leading up to award show tomorrow, I have been one of the curators of a program designed by The Grammys® to spread the word about fresh new talent. The other curators include RZA, Kelly Clarkson, Ozzy Osbourne, Jim James, Kaskade, and Snoop. Today, I’ll be tweeting links to some of the artists I think are great, as part of that program, so make sure to follow me on Twitter (@mikeshinoda) to hear some great new music today.
The “Amplifier” program has been a hit with the Grammy folks, and as such, they’ve decided to do more than just shout out the artists. So we just announced a new campaign called CenterStage.
Whereas with “Amplifier,” the prize was a tweet by a popular artist to their fanbase, “CenterStage” aims to prove a dream experience for an emerging artist, including things like studio time with Grammy® producers and engineers, an opening slot on a tour or festival, and a music video. The Grammy network of artists and talent is as deep as it gets, so it’s clear that the people the winners will be paired up with will be spectacular.
Sign up, encourage your friends, spread the word. CenterStage is an incredible opportunity for a brand new talent to get their big break. Go to hyundaicenterstage.com to sign up and vote.
I’ve been keeping a secret.
My secret is not something shocking, it’s not about music, and it’s not anything that would make an exciting gossip column. And the people who are impacted by this secret–the people who benefit from what I’m about to tell you–may never really know how it happened, because they do not have internet, may not have electricity, and almost certainly have never heard of Linkin Park.
I have a childhood friend from California named Andrew, who works for a non-profit, doing things like getting medical supplies to refugees after natural disasters. He had been going back and forth regularly between the US and Haiti. A little over a year ago, during one of his stops at home, I had him over for dinner. We talked about what was going on, and as he recounted the complex and troubling scenario he saw on his trips, he revealed an unexpected idea. He was considering starting a business in Haiti.
Andrew told me how, on every visit to the country, he was shocked at the mountains of plastic trash piling up in streets, waterways, and beaches. He showed me pictures. It was everywhere. He told me that they didn’t have a recycling program to clean it up. So he wanted to start one.
At first, we imagined it as a non-profit. But if it was set up that way, the donation money might get tight or run out, and the program would have to stop. So I suggested that, if it was set up for-profit, it could not only be more sustainable, but could also create a sense of pride for the workers. Andrew had been thinking the same. By the end of the conversation, I decided I was willing to take the risk with him. After all, even if the business failed and the money we put in was lost, at least we would have cleaned a bunch of plastic off the streets.
The company we created is called Sustainable Recycling Solutions, or SRS. It is not a charity. SRS is a business based in Haiti, run and operated by Haitian workers. One of the co-owners of SRS is a Haitian gentleman named Pino, who also sells cheap, clean water all over Haiti in little plastic packets. He expressed his concern that his plastic product is creating a lot of waste, and he wanted to do something to offset it. So he joined us.
At this point, one might ask, “with all the other problems facing Haiti, why focus on recycling?” Their cholera outbreak that began after the earthquake has now been upgraded to “endemic” status, which is one level away from “as bad as it gets.” More than half the country can’t read. The earthquake has left people displaced in tent camps all over Port Au Prince and surrounding areas. And most shocking of all, Haiti has a 75% unemployment rate. How will recycling fix anything that really matters?
To answer that, let me first say: I have not spoken publicly about SRS for a number of reasons. First, because in the beginning, SRS was absolutely nothing but a dirt lot, with no electricity or water. Second, because Linkin Park is relatively unknown in Haiti, so there would be no substantial benefit from a public endorsement of mine in the early stages. And third, because there was a seemingly substantial chance it would fail.
SRS has been operating for over a year now. And as it turns out, collecting plastic fights all the problems listed above. SRS is paying people for cleaning up their neighborhoods and not littering. The streets are starting to visibly change. With enough trash removal, the water will be cleaner, promoting better hygiene and fighting cholera. The people are learning the social and environmental benefits of recycling and sustainability. And most importantly, people who can’t read and limited job experience now have a new opportunity to make money and provide for their families.
This week, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and on the three-year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, I’m happy to tell you that SRS has cleaned over 3.5 million pounds of plastic (PET and HDPE) off the streets in Port Au Prince and surrounding cities. We employ 30 people and do business with roughly 4000 regular collectors. Savvy plastic collectors have even banded together on their own–separate from SRS–and created mini businesses underneath ours, driving collection routes and bringing plastic from cities further away. And we have created a sustainable, profitable solution that will clean up the streets, help fight disease, and put people to work in a country where this help is most in need, and very well-deserved. Most important of all, I have seen the powerful character of the people there–people who work hard and share a wonderful entrepreneurial spirit.
I look forward to occasionally sharing my experiences with SRS here. If you feel inspired to leave a positive message for the folks in Haiti, feel free to do so in the comments section below.
Joe, Dave, and I were hanging out today at Joe’s house. Joe said earlier this week, a song from the mid-90s came on the radio–a song that he remembered as being very energetic and heavy. But as he listened to it, he realized to really wasn’t that big-sounding by today’s standards.
I / we talked about how today, the easy-access to great sounding music software, when coupled with the University of YouTube, allows musicians of all levels to get big, amazing sounds.
It made me think of this KillSonik track that just came out. I feel like nothing sounded this big and nasty ten years ago…
There was so much good music this year! Lots of exciting stuff from indie and major label artists, from “throwback-analogue-made-new” songs to “how-the-hell-did-they-make-that-sound?!?” songs. There were a bunch of great tracks that came directly from artists, and weren’t available in the major music libraries (special mention to A$AP Rocky’s “1 Train”).
Most of the songs on this year’s list come from albums that are also great, so if you like a song and haven’t heard the whole album, I recommend checking it out.
If you want to check me out on Spotify and follow my playlists throughout the year, I’m at m_shinoda. Also, shout out to the fans on Spotify who sent me Top 40 tracks, with messages like “Mike, have you heard this? You should check it out!” Way to keep me in the loop, guys.
Anyway, here at the 12 best songs of the year:
NOTE: I added a song, because it’s awesome! 13!
EDIT: I think I accidentally deleted this playlist. Oh well. I’m here on Spotify, and I have lots of other playlists for you to listen to: m_shinoda
With Stagelight now out for Windows, a number of you guys are checking it out. This week, I wanted to do something special for all our early adopters who are helping us spread the word: I made you guys a song.
This session can be downloaded and opened in Stagelight on Windows 7 or 8. It’s not an audio file and doesn’t contain any audio so (for now) only Stagelight users get to hear it.
For those of you who haven’t checked it out yet: Stagelight is a new music-making program designed by Open Labs and me. It’s the result of years of testing on stage and in the studio. With it, anyone at any level can make a great song in as little as a few minutes. It’s powerful and it’s simple, and you can buy it for only $10 HERE.
Again, thank you for being the first to check out Stagelight.
Download COMPLIMENTARY here: http://smarturl.it/LP_StageLight
PS: I’m leaving today for Dell World in Austin; keep an eye out for footage online!
Tonight, we’ll be playing a special TV performance on Spike’s Video Game Awards. Will it have anything to do with MEDAL OF HONOR WARFIGHTER?
Samuel L. Jackson to Host VGA 10
Get More: Samuel L. Jackson to Host VGA 10
Saturday, we play the KROQ show in LA. Then next week, I’m going out to Austin for Dell World.
I haven’t been to Dell World before. As most of you know, I’ve been a Mac user my whole life, so I never really had an interest. But this year, as I was working on our new software called STAGELIGHT (which just came out for PC, and is only $10 *not-subtle-hint), I got a change to play with the new Dell XPS systems. And I have to say, I was intrigued. So here I am, doing a walk-on at their biggest event.
For anyone planning to go: there will be a “bio-sphere” on site of my creative space. It’s a small bubble-room filled with my art, music gear, and things I have around in my office and studio while I’m working. My sketchbook, guitar, art…stuff like that will be on display. There, you’ll also be able to use the Stagelight software to make your own music.
I’ll also be doing a performance with Chester and Camp Freddy. If you haven’t heard about Camp Freddy, it’s a rotating group of super-musicians and all stars who get together and casually jam out covers of some of the best songs of all time. In Camp Freddy performances, I’ve seen Chester sing Led Zeppelin, AC DC, and The Doors.
Here’s a taste of what to expect (Chester, Slash, Dave Navarro, Billy Morrison, and I can’t tell who else was there that night…)
Some of you have been seeing and passing around the link for this video, which is called “Why doesn’t MTV play videos anymore?” It’s pretty funny:
Super funny, right? But…in case any of you were thinking of taking it too seriously (I see you on Twitter)…in all fairness, MTV didn’t really switch to reality TV format ONLY because people started file sharing. A major factor was actually that playing videos didn’t allow them to get consistent ratings, since people kept switching stations. Kids might watch a couple videos they liked, but if a video came on that they didn’t, they would switch the channel. And then they might not come back, because most likely they changed the channel to a 30-minute program that they’d watch in entirety. So MTV changed to a format that allowed them to get ratings (and make more money, plus entertain people with “shows about vapid people”).
More importantly, the generation that grew up on MTV’s shows like Headbangers Ball and Yo! MTV Raps–aren’t really the generation who started file sharing in the early 2000s. That was the generation after them; the 1975-1985 generation were all out of college and had joined the workforce by then, and everyone knows it was the high school and college kids who were the first big wave that popularized file sharing. So those folks were born about 1985 or later.
In other words, the people who grew up looking to MTV for new cool music sometimes look back in sadness at the cancellation of those shows because the generation after them started changing the game. Which happens. And those sad nostalgic people do need to grow up, go find those videos on YouTube, and make a playlist or something.