Secure with the freedom and opportunity to shape their own futures, it is easy for college students to take their situation for granted. But not every person their age is so lucky.
A group of Stevens students set out this semester to vocalize their gratitude for college-age soldiers and veterans who – by risking their lives at war – enable the rest of us to eat, sleep, study and socialize in peace on campus.
What's even more exciting is that they are doing it through music.
Dubbed Project Eleven, the initiative is the work of Stevens Multimedia (SMM), a student-run company made up of music and technology majors and other students that serves the campus and beyond in the media arts field. To be officially announced on Veteran's Day – 11/11/11 at 11:11 a.m. – the group is inviting college-age bands and musicians to submit songs for an album to support veteran's charities. The album will ultimately be produced by Castle Point Records, the private label run by Stevens Multimedia, and sold on Apple iTunes and other digital storefronts.
"This is to say thank you to our troops that you are at war and we are at college," said David Musial, Affiliate Associate Professor of Music & Technology at Stevens and Faculty Advisor to Stevens Multimedia.
The idea for Project Eleven stemmed from a music industry contact of Prof. Musial, who put the project in the capable hands of the students involved in SMM. They hit the ground running.
The students plan to spread the word virally through social media and the Internet as well as air the PSA on major television networks on or around Veteran's Day.
Through these marketing initiatives, SMM hopes to generate a large number of simple demo recording submissions from college students across the country. All styles of music are welcome, so long as they are thematically linked to veteran's causes, such as freedom, courage, honor, sacrifice and hope.
Once the submission process ends, SMM students will select their favorite demos and ask the artists to produce mixes on their own campuses. Ultimately, the SMM students will create a fully-mastered iTunes album of the 11 top songs (all other mixes created will be available as bonus tracks on the Project Eleven website). With the official release scheduled for Memorial Day 2012, the group also intends to organize 11 nationwide release concerts hosted by the colleges responsible for each track.
All proceeds from the album will go to charities that support active soldiers and veterans in need, especially those of college-age. The artists whose tracks are selected to the CD can choose which charity they'd like the individual proceeds from their track to go to.
The idea of a musical fundraiser to thank college-age soldiers and veterans is appealing to Stevens students who directly or indirectly benefit from the sacrifices their peers have made in the name of freedom, and they think it will resonate with other students across the country as well.
"We want this album to be something people our age can enjoy listening to, but that also inspires young people to support an important cause," said Valdes.
Meanwhile, SMM is also hard at work at producing its second commercial album through Castle Point Records. Entitled "Shift," Valdes hopes the publicity generated through Project Eleven could be exactly what the students need to make the album a success in a highly-competitive industry.
"We're always being told we're doing something impossible – making a commercial album with no budget," said Valdes. "If Project Eleven can help support young soldiers and veterans, and also bring attention to ‘Shift' so we can do more charitable projects like this in the future, it's a win-win."