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Rock the Vote lures millennials to the polls with promise of new tunes

Rock the Vote has been around for over 25 years, rousing the MTV generation to the polls through the popular music of the time – hello Madonna in 1990.

The organization – the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to engage, register and turn out young voters – is still using music as a powerful messenger and lure, but the recent message utilizes location technology to incentivize young voters, who have been notoriously absent in recent elections. In the 2012 election, just 45 per cent of young Americans aged 18 to 29 turned out to vote.

Popular artists Watsky & Adam Vida, the Head and the Heart and Local Natives are releasing new songs on Election Day, November 8, but to hear them, fans must head to their local polling station to pick up the exclusive stream from ElectionFM.com. Once the fan is in the general neighborhood of that polling station, the songs will be exclusively available to stream. As long as fans stay near the polling station, they can keep listening.

The campaign uses new technology powered by the Google Maps APIs and the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Voting Information Project via the Google Civic Information API. This will be the first time artists have ever released location-based songs and they’re doing it to help young voters enjoy their experience at the polls. With Millennials poised to overtake Baby Boomers in number, Rock the Vote is launching this effort to remind young people across the country to make their voices heard at the ballot box on Tuesday.

“Young voters know the place to be on Election Day is around their polling station — so we decided to add a soundtrack as they show up to make their voices heard on environmental issues, immigration and the criminal-justice system,” said Jesse Moore, Rock the Vote’s Vice President of Civic Engagement.

A promotional video was produced by Goodby Silverstein & Partners, which collaborated with Rock the Vote throughout this campaign, that animates the process of getting to the polling station through location services and streaming the tunes.

“We’re very excited to partner with Rock the Vote for such an important cause,” stated Florian Marquardt and Kurt Mills of Goodby Silverstein & Partners. “We hope that this reminds fans to head for the polls on Election Day and hear some exclusive music while they’re there.”

The location-based activation, conceived by Goodby Silverstein & Partners, will work at any polling station in the country, and only on Election Day. Though the purpose of the activation is to complement the voting experience, fans will not actually have to vote or even be at their assigned polling stations in order to stream the songs.

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Kyle O'Brien

I am a reporter for The Drum covering a wide array of topics but always trying to tell the best stories possible. I am a former west coaster from California and Portland, Oregon, now living in Pennsylvania — with time spent in NYC each week.

I also play saxophone professionally.

All by Kyle