In the 2012 election, only 45 percent of young Americans (ages 18 to 29) turned out to vote. And since Rock the Vote’s mission is to increase youth-voter turnout, they needed to make voting more attractive to their target.
But incentivizing anyone to vote is illegal. So we needed an innovative way to reach youth and get them to the polls on Election Day.
Most young people don’t care about politics. But all of them care about music. And they’re always listening on their phones.
So we created Election FM, a mobile music site that launched brand-new, never-before-heard music on Election Day. But it worked only if you were near a polling station.
Thus we found a way around the law. We couldn’t incentivize people to vote, but if they wanted to hear the new music, they had to physically be at a polling station. On Election Day.
We partnered with three popular bands—Watsky, the Head and the Heart and Local Natives—to release new Election Day songs exclusively on Election FM. The music could be heard only within 300 feet of official US polling stations. These became the music industry’s first geo-located songs.
To hear the music, potential voters went to ElectionFM.com and typed in their addresses. Then the GPS in their phones guided them to their assigned polling stations, step by step. We worked directly with Google Maps to geo-tag every polling station in the country, 100,000 in all, so the site worked for any US address.
Once users were within 300 feet of their polling places, the music was automatically unlocked to stream on their phones. All they had to do was stay within the listening radius to hear all the songs. If they left the area, the music stopped.
The site became active when the polls opened on Election Day, November 8, 2016, and shut down once the polls closed, creating a one-day-only music event streaming at approximately 100,000 polling locations.
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