Arts & Culture Faithful Creativity
Music for a Cause
Protosong Project Practices the Business of Doing Good
By Laura Onstot '03 | Photo by Luke Rutan
From left: Joe Miller, Jordan Dettmer, and Corey McGuire built a website for their Protosong project and collected $1,000 in donations for Charity Water, a nonpro!t that works to bring clean, safe drinking water to developing countries. They released a playlist of new music to those who had donated, and they released a second playlist in October 2012.
Corey McGuire '12 was listening to a friend's band, enjoying the song, when it hit him: “No one is ever going to hear it.” But the song was good — really good. He wanted to find a way to get it out there.
That goal was still in McGuire's mind when he and his four team members began developing an idea for Seattle Pacific University's sixth annual Social Venture Plan competition.
The competition is sponsored by the Center for Applied Learning in SPU's School of Business
and Economics, to get students to use what they learn to make the world a better place. Student
teams from the Northwest and abroad submit business plans for review by more than 80 industry
professionals and nonprofit executives. At the April showcase, winners received cash prizes donated by event sponsors — $2,500 for first-place.
McGuire and his teammates entered the competition with a project that blended two ideas: giving new musicians a public platform and raising money for a good cause. “We didn't want to be just another music service,” he explains. They called it “Protosong.”
Part Pandora, part Kickstarter, Protosong works like this: People pledge money to a specific cause with a fundraising goal. After a set period of time, the donors are rewarded with a group of songs by artists, known and undiscovered.
McGuire and his team approached musician friends at SPU to donate songs to Protosong's site, including junior Gabriel Much, guitarist and vocalist for the band The Cellar Door. Gabriel agreed right away: “To be able to support a cause and have a new way to listen to music and buy music — it was time to get behind something like that.”
Associate Professor of Management Randy Franz says Social Venture Plan Competition judges were impressed by Protosong's use of social crowd-sourcing for funding, online technology, and
social good. “It was a very innovative combination of interests.” Protosong walked away with a first-place finish and a check for $2,500.
This October, McGuire's team and their supporters launched Protosong on a larger scale — off
campus. At protosong.com, their website, they continue to raise money and gather new playlists,
so that new musicians will be able to spread their songs beyond the basement or garage, while simultaneously raising funds for clean water projects.