Rock for Health
We’ve never found a more generous and socially conscious group than the musicians we’ve worked with over the years. Through that connection we’ve been introduced to some amazing non-profit organizations. We’d like to take the opportunity to spotlight one each month. Please take the time to get to know them, their cause and if it’s something that piques your passion reach out and get involved!
TWRY first heard about Rock For Health at a show in March of last year. Since then, Kristina Grossmann and her team have done so many great things for musicians and the people that bring us the music we love, so that’s why we’re selecting Rock for Health to ring in our new Rock the Cause feature on the site. Look for the Rock for Health gang out at Warped Tour this year. Stop by their booth to say hi, thank them for their amazing work and see how you can help! Check out this spotlight we did with Kristina in March of 2008.
Before you start reading this interview – think of this:
Music exists because of the artists creating it. Record labels exist because of the artists creating that music. The employees of record labels (everyone from the mail room guys to the CEO) all have health insurance and benefits. Yet – these people all have jobs because of the artists. The artists see no benefits, no health insurance, nothing. Musicians are not seen as employees of a record label. They are “temps” – temporary employees – because of the record contract that they sign. They sign their career and lives over to these labels, which help develop it and help it grow. Nine times out of ten, a band will break up or cancel tours due to prevailing health issues. Without healthy musicians, we will not have music that is created to its utmost creativity. Sick artists cannot tour. RFH wants to make their lives healthy and long-lived!
Let’s start out with a brief introduction, who are Kristina Grossmann and Rock For Health?
My name is Kristina Grossmann and I am the CEO/Founder of ROCK FOR HEALTH. (rockforhealth.org) RFH is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that seeks to educate artists on health issues, provide necessary medical information, and be an advocate for musicians in regards to health insurance coverage and long-term care. I’ve worked in the music industry for many years, doing everything from managing bands, booking venues, working at record labels, and touring with various bands. I’ve seen first hand the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle has had on musicians, and the amount of money they spend on healthcare in times of need.
How long has Rock For Health been in existence?
RFH was created in October of 2007.
While many people might not think about the fact that musicians and their crews are pretty susceptible to being sick, it’s definitely an issue given their touring schedules, being around so many people every single day, etc…what brought it to your attention and raised such a red flag?
I personally got sick while on the road with Bayside this summer on Warped Tour. I had to go to some ER in Kansas where I did not receive the appropriate care because of the way that I looked. I learned that having tattoos and piercing automatically make people think you a poor and uninsured. I was not even asked to present my insurance card to the people at the ER. I had to bring it up half way through the visit when they were talking about “saving money.” It wasn’t until they found out that I had insurance that they suddenly started giving me the appropriate care that I needed.
Health care and the music world has always been something on my mind, but it wasn’t until this incident that I really decided to do more research on it and get the ball rolling! It’s terrible. So many of my friends’ bands have had to/are pay off thousands of dollars worth of hospital bills. They don’t and can’t get the care that they need when they are sick, so their health progressively gets worse and worse and thousands of dollars more expensive than it should have been in the first place.
The Dresden Dolls supporting the cause!
What are some of your initiatives or goals that you are currently working on?
We have so many goals for ROCK FOR HEALTH! It’s really a great organization. We don’t just work on getting artists health insurance – we seek to educate artists on health issues such as preventative health services, social, occupational, and mental outreach, as well as provide necessary medical information. Through leadership, communication, and partnerships, we are dedicated to the creation of a healthy musical environment in which musicians can perform at their peek physical and mental abilities.
Being fairly new, we are working on getting RFH out to as many people as we can – through interviews such as this one, radio press, physical press (AP, Billboard, Rolling Stone, etc.) and going to as many shows and tours as we can! One of the biggest ways we promote and make money is through the sale of merchandise at shows. We make health care less frightening! Fans can buy tee shirts knowing that the money they spent is going to keeping their favorite artist(s) healthy and creating music.
Do you find that a high percentage of musicians do not have health care and what is your basic advice to them?
96% of musicians DO NOT have health care! That’s a staggering, frightening number. RFH is here to lower that number drastically and make the music world healthier!
What do you find are some of the main reasons that most musicians don’t have insurance?
Today, health insurance companies often consider musicians and artists an “at risk” population based on legitimate occupational health risks – road travel, hearing damage, and repetitive stress disorders. Many times, insurance companies stereotype artists because of the way that they look and the generalized idea of “sex, drugs, rock and roll.” Musicians who lack health insurance will very often delay or forgo health care until situations get desperate. At moments of crisis they are forced to use hospitals, emergency rooms, and trauma centers to seek treatment instead of addressing health problems at a point when less expensive interventions were possible. As a result, the musician as a patient can very easily run up huge medical bills that can put them in thousands of dollars of debt, sometimes causing the band to break up.
How can the general public and music fans get involved?
We’d love to have the support of anyone! The best way as of now to support us is to befriend us on myspace and facebook, buy our tee shirts, donate, and post our banners on the web! Pocket change and word of mouth can seriously go a long way.
What kind of response/feedback have you been getting from bands?
It’s so rewarding to tell bands about ROCK FOR HEALTH. You can see it in their eyes that the genuinely appreciate our cause. They get really excited that someone is finally addressing a problem that has been haunting them. Bands such as Bayside, Circa Survive, Chiodos, Meg & Dia, The Fiery Furnaces, Anberlin, The Almost, Your Vegas, Envy on the Coast, The Spill Canvas, and many more have been showing their support by wearing our shirts on stage and giving us shout outs. The Dresden Dolls showed their support by inviting us on their winter tour, which returned 200% of expected profits. We love them all!
Where can people go to find out more on your organization?
People can visit www.rockforhealth.org or myspace.com/rockforhealth for more information. My contact information is listed on rockforhealth.org.
Do you partner with any other organizations and can you tell us anything about them and the working relationships?
There are quite a few organizations that we are forming partnerships at the moment. We are working with a few insurance companies, nutritional companies, gyms, and health benefit agencies. The response we have been getting is great!
It looks like you may have booths at some of the big upcoming summer tours, can you tell fans where they can find you?
We are really excited to have confirmed Warped Tour and Cornerstone this summer! We are working on a few other festivals at the moment. Fans can find us n the merch/nonprofit world where we will have a booth set up! Come and say hello and talk to us!