You can credit a conversation between Tara Cullis and her husband, David Suzuki, for starting the Playlist for the Planet. Tara felt strongly that the environmental movement needed an anthem, a song to rally behind. Then David, in his inimitable way started hounding me, "Hey Panos, we need to get music in our campaigns, like Give Peace a Chance, or We Shall Overcome —something people can rally around." I come from a musical family, so he knew I would be only too happy to take it on.
From the beginning I knew it couldn't be the stereotype of environmental songs—long hair, acoustic guitar with the flower in the head stock. That's why you'll find D.O.A. (punk pioneers), k-os (hip-hop), LIGHTS (intergalactic-electro music), Johnny Reid (Country), Raffi (children's music) and every other genre you can imagine all on the same album.
We also held an environmental songwriting contest with CBC Radio 3, and over 600 artists submitted songs from every corner of the country. If I picked my favorite songs on the album, they'd be from the contest—we have some great Canadian independent artists!
Getting the rights for songs on a compilation can be tricky—very. Thankfully, David Suzuki has such trust and respect that every artist instantly said, "How can I help out?!" All of them (and their publishing companies and management) waived all their normal royalties. They gifted their music for the Playlist for the Planet without any compensation. Serious generosity. Thanks to you all.
As Suzuki says, "It's been my experience that musicians are often the first to donate their time and music to causes such as civil rights, poverty, and the environment."
Now, almost a year after David and Tara's inspiration, there are 30 Canadian environmental songs on a single album available on iTunes . You can have a great soundtrack for the revolution and to support the David Suzuki Foundation at the same time. We think that's good—you will too.