If you know Penny Arcade, then you’ve no doubt heard about Child’s Play, the charity run by the Seattle-based web comic empire that connects children’s hospitals with much-needed toys, books, and games.
It’s a cause that means an awful lot to many students at VFS. We’re all in the business of entertainment. And this year, Child’s Play got some special support from a group of eight Entertainment Business Management students and their compilation album Power Up: Music to Game By.
Featuring classic game music and original chiptunes and artists from London Philharmonic to Freezepop, Power Up is the soundtrack for the discerning gamer. Remarkably, it was created in just seven weeks in the second of six terms in the one-year EBM program. All proceeds go to Child’s Play.
The producers behind the album include Skye Radies, Sheryl Vendamani, Max Tennessen, Zach Hill, Enrique Vazquez, Alper Demirci, Marc Hebert, and Marlon Doll. We caught up with two, Skye and Sheryl, to find out more about this project and what Child’s Play means to them.
What are your goals, ultimately, for Power Up?
Skye: Get all the money in the world!
More seriously though, as this is a compilation album created as one of the term projects for the EBM program the main goal, first and foremost, is to raise as much as we can for the Child’s Play Charity before our licenses expire at the end of December.
Why Child’s Play?
Sheryl: We chose this charity for our compilation album because of their strong following in both their charity and web comic forms. The online gaming community tends to rally together and support causes they can relate to and, of course, our team of producers ranged from casual to hardcore gamers.
This charity is one that I personally gravitated towards as it related to my past. I had spent a large portion of my childhood in BC Children’s Hospital and the majority of my memories from those years took place in those halls. When this project was introduced to us at the beginning of the year, I jumped at the opportunity. Not only are we helping Child’s Play support the branch of Children’s Hospital that I stayed at, but also 70 others that they’re in association with.
Have you been in touch with Child’s Play directly at all?
Skye: We have been in communication throughout this entire process with the project manager from the charity, Jamie Dillion. They have truly supported us in our efforts – even supplying us with a letter of support stating their appreciation of the generosity and spirit of community that our project generates. The charity has been extremely supportive throughout this past year, even wanting to be part of the decision-making process for various aspects of the album.
They have been active and cooperative throughout the various development phases of this compilation album, providing their input and expertise on their brand. It was a good experience working with people outside of the immediate school and aiding a non-profit charity organization.
Could you describe the process of getting this album together?
Skye: As I stated above, there are many tasks that go into completing an album like this, starting with selecting the charity, choosing the genre, developing the creative concepts for the cover art, sourcing and securing licenses for songs to mixing and mastering the tracks, packaging the album and marketing! We worked together as a team through all of the tasks required to complete each aspect of the development, with select team members taking the lead when necessary.
After it was all said and done, it was an educational process with some hurdles and setbacks as with any new project! We overcame any issues and delivered the album on time, then the marketing and distribution phase began. From here on in, we have excelled like no other charity compilation album from the EBM program, raising over $8,400 in 18 weeks!
What’s been the most important aspect of marketing this album? What are you doing to keep the project in the public eye?
Sheryl: After the product was made, I formulated and piloted a marketing campaign that honed in on the target audience – hard-core male gamers, ages 18-34 – and brought the product to them in their favorite form of entertainment, the internet.
We began contacting broadcasters within Justin.TV and Twitch.TV in hopes of working together to promote their channel, the charity and our album. To do this, we placed a donation button below their live broadcast of gameplay and commentary and collected funds for Child’s Play. After their marathon or event ended, we’d reward the broadcasters with download codes for the album according to how much was raised. The broadcasters would often use the album as giveaways to their growing communities and to those who donated as a thank you for their generosity. This campaign provided us with not one, but two advertising opportunities.
While the early stages were slow, within 18 weeks we raised over $8,400, the most any EBM charity compilation album project has ever raised for a charity! In fact, the strength of this campaign has grown so strong now that we rarely have to reach out to broadcasters for this Power Up/Child’s Play project anymore; they are now coming to us. In addition, due to the overwhelming support, this marketing campaign’s success eventually led to our Power Up: Music to Game By team winning the “Difference Maker Award” at the Vancouver Film School 2012 Spring Impact Awards.
In an effort to create a buzz about our album and the Child’s Play Charity outside of the online gaming communities, Zach Hill has begun sending out press releases and copies of the digital album to local and regional newspapers, blogs, television spots, and forums. This, along with the continued following through our charity gaming marathons and social media, is how we plan on keeping the project in the public’s eye.
Is there a single aspect — getting a certain artist, finding a certain audience, whatever — that you’re proudest of? Why?
Skye: That’s a difficult question to answer as there were so many great elements to this project ranging from the artwork, the music, the marketing campaign, the Facebook page, etc.!
However, I think we are the happiest with the response the project received to date. We have an audience that has been unbelievably supportive, as well as the artists we contacted and the charity itself. Their excitement to be a part of this album and willingness to work with us, first time Producers and noobs at cold calling, was extremely encouraging.
We are extremely happy that we have been able to be part of this project and raise as much as we have for Child’s Play so far.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, and congrats to all the producers behind the album! Readers can find out more about Power Up on Facebook or buy and download a digital copy of the album right now at CDBaby.