Diabolical Fair Trade Experiment
I've been a musician for 25 years. During that time I've toured across the U.S., Europe and Japan. I have also participated in unholy alliances with numerous record labels large and small, and have served as a studio musician on commercials for companies and corporations which now riddle me with fear. But, I've also taken the DIY concept to heart by starting my own label and producing my own records, as well as assembling and promoting numerous shows and benefits. Several years ago I co-produced a CD for my label entitled Devil Dub, which has since achieved something of a cult following thanks to the contributions of some unique guest musicians. Recently, when all of the usual distributors sold out of the CD, I began to receive direct inquiries from fans interested in purchasing the disc. Hmm, I thought, how could this transaction be made a little more... interesting...
The Diabolical Fair Trade Music Experiment:
Now when I recieve an email from an unsuspecting music fan who asks if Devil Dub is still available, I respond that indeed it is, but only for trade: a Fair Trade. I ask for their location, and after providing them with a link to Global Exchange's basic introduction to Fair Trade, I include links to a few retail locations in their area where Fair Trade products can be purchased.
Here's the deal I offer:
All they have to do is buy any Certified Fair Trade product worth $15.00 or less and send it to me and I'll send back a CD. If the goody they send cost them three bucks, that's fine. They get a deal on the CD and I get the pleasure of knowing they took the time to learn a little about Fair Trade, and who knows, maybe continue to buy Fair Trade goods in the future. I stipulate that the item must be purchased in person, not over the web, because not only do I want them to locate retail outlets they can patronize in the future, but I also want to involve them physically in the process. You see, I want them to work for it.
I am constantly encouraged by the correspondence I receive from this "experiment". Almost all of the people who become involved have never heard of Fair Trade, but they become excited and engaged by our unique transaction. Not only do we correspond more on a personal basis, but those who participate are often thankful for the experience, and many pledge to buy Fair Trade products in the future.
Gretchen in San Diego wrote:"Unfortunately this quest proved more difficult than I'd anticipated- sad- anyhow I found only the tea and cocoa. Hopefully there will be more and more Fair Trade items at hand as time moves forward... Thank You!!! I'm happy to have had this learning experience. I'll be sharing the knowledge."
Steven in Scotland is one of the few participants who had previously heard of Fair Trade:"This wee exchange has helped to bring it to the fore of my thinking again. Nice one!"(No, I didn't make that up. He's from Scotland and he wrote "wee" in an email.)
I made a rare exception for Kostantinos in Greece. He said he couldn't find any Fair Trade items in his town. So, I asked if he could trade something created by local artisans or craftsmen whom he was sure were paid a fair wage for their work. Amazingly, he visited a local shop which is a certified retailer for Mastiha, a gum mastic which is only produced on the Greek island of Chios. He composed a collection of goodies containing a package of Mastiha, recipes for dishes based on this national foodstuff treasure, a small bottle of Ouzo (46% alcohol, yeeeouch!) a small bottle of fine Greek olive oil, and a few candies also containing the Chios gum mastic. After scratching my head about what to do with all of this amazing stuff, I decided to organize a dinner party for some of the musicians who played on the CD. With a video camera at the ready, we cooked the dishes described in the recipes, dipped our bread into the excellent olive oil, and toasted Konstantinos with the Ouzo. Finally, we made an edit of the footage and sent him a quicktime so he could virtually participate in our celebration. He was freaked, we were freaked, damnit, it was a freakin' good time! All of this from a CD originally released in 1998!