In a time when many fandoms get a reputation for behaving badly (the Vancouver Canucks fans come to mind at this very moment), I wanted to take a moment and mention a new fan charity project that was announced today. It’s something I’d been hoping to launch for nearly 6 months now. Of course I’m mentioning it as I hope members of this particular fandom will participate and help raise money for charity, but I’m also hoping I’ll inspire others to find more positive ways to be a ‘fan’ of whatever it is you’re into.
I sort of fell into fandoms helping charities with the Supernatural website I co-founded. The Supernatural fandom is an ardent bunch and it was clear to my fellow co-founder and I early on that this enthusiasm should be harnessed for something better than only debating which Winchester is better looking (For the record, they are both easy on the eyes). We were right – we’ve raised over $55,00o for charity to date.
So when a band I love (Keane) held a t-shirt competition last fall and literally hundreds of fans entered, my “fandom brain” was engaged! There were many original, creative, brilliant and just plain fun designs submitted. But only one could win. So I thought that it would be a positive thing to take the non-winning designs (with the artists’ permission) and sell them on Cafe Press for one of the bands’ chosen charities. Several of us fans discussed the idea online and all were in favor of the idea.
I knew this project could not happen overnight. Naturally, not every fan would be willing to give up their design. And I also had to keep in mind that if the band were to support the idea, we could not sell a gazillion types of merchandise with the designs on them, so we would not cut into their own official merchandise sales.
So after receiving a few of the designs that were not the grand prize winners, I worked on opening the store. I immediately hit a snag though. Cafe Press emailed me to say that even though we had not used any of the band members’ likenesses on the designs, the band’s name alone violated copyright law. I refused to be deterred. After all, 100% the commissions made from the store were set up to go to Amnesty International, one of many charities Keane heartily supports. None of us involved would make a dime off it! 🙂
So I reached out to the band’s website moderators. I also did some digging and found a band contact online and reached out to her as well. And then I waited. And waited some more.
One day, back in March, I was driving and I received a phone call. I have bluetooth in my car, so I can always see who is calling me right on my dash. (Pretty convenient, right?) The call said “Unavailable,” which 99% of the time means TELEMARKETER! But I had given my phone number out to one of the band’s website moderators who asked for it, so I thought maybe there was a tiny chance that someone was calling me regarding the store. So I answered…and my gut instinct was right!
On the phone was a delightful woman with a lovely British accent named Beth telling me that not only did she receive my email correspondence, but she had been discussing the idea with the BAND…and they liked it! (GASP! YAY!) She informed me that she was working on finding a happy medium of us selling just a few designs on 3-4 types of items, and that would probably make their record label agreeable to the store. She asked me if that was reasonable. Honestly, I was more than happy to work with whatever parameters she had for me.
She informed me that a representative from Island Records would email me in the near future (I did not ask how long that meant). I said I’d look forward to working out all the details with the record company and I thanked her so much for taking the time to call me from across the pond.
Then I waited again. For at least a month this time.
I’m a bit of an impatient person and I did not want Beth to think I dropped the ball, so I sent her a courtesy email simply saying that I had not received an email from Island Records yet. Not too much later, I finally received that email!
At this point, it was a pretty simple project. I had to submit the requested designs and show the label exactly what items of merchandise they would be sold on. Then I’d get a contract to sign. And once that contract was signed and returned back to me, I could send it along to Cafe Press! This process ended up taking probably another month and in total about 6 months from fruition to completion.
My point in sharing all these details is that if I can put a project together like this, YOU can too! There are just a couple things to keep in mind:
A) Be patient. Very patient.
B) Don’t forget to be polite – always!
C) And be open-minded to work toward a mutually-beneficial goal.
And while opening a Cafe Press store, or having a bake sale or doing whatever small, positive idea you have for charity may not get you on the news (like the idiots who rioted after the Vancouver Canucks lost), I bet you’ll feel better about your efforts.
So today our Keane Fans For Amnesty store is open and if you’re reading this because you’re a Keane fan, well…Please go shopping…AND please tell all of your friends about the store! Don’t be shy about sharing on Facebook and Twitter either. The only way this will be a success if we fans make it one!
This is a one-year project, so let’s see how much money we can make for Amnesty International!
P.S. Congratulations and thank you to Simona, Rachel and Annette for sharing their designs with us!