INTERVIEW: HOPE IN MUSIC
It’s not a new story. Musicians get addicted to drugs/ alcohol, become depressed, have eating disorders and basically self-abuse themselves. A lot of people say how they want to help, but then don’t do anything about it. Hope In Music will change that!
Hope In Music’s Mission Statement;
Hope in Music is an organization devoted to helping people who struggle with addiction, depression, eating disorders and self-injury. We believe in making changes for the better no matter what your struggles may be and that music can be at the front row of that change. H.I.M.’s primary purpose is to inspire change and to invest in the facilities that make change possible.
Tell us a little about yourself (Your name, how long have you been involved in music, how did you get your start in the music industry, etc.).
My name is Ryan Sweeney. I'm 29 and from Long Island, NY. I have been traveling with bands since the late 90's, but didn't really start working for bands till 2001. I started working for a band called From Autumn To Ashes, so really I got into the industry because my friends started a band that got big and told me to learn something. haha
How did the idea of Hope In Music come about?
Well, the idea originally came when my friend died of a heroine overdose in early 2011. He was a promoter in Long Island and also toured with FATA and other bands. I knew from what I had gone through that it wasn't easy getting sober, especially in the music scene. At that time, I had been sober a little over a year, so my thought process was to promote recovery to the music community. I made a little noise with that but it wasn't until I started working for a band called The Summer Set that things seemed to fall into place. I changed the name to Hope In Music because of a letter someone sent me and opened it up to the idea that music can be a positive outlet for change no matter what you are dealing with.
What exactly does Hope In Music do?
Well the idea behind H.I.M. is to promote positive change in people. Some of the things we do are interviews with bands: a basic interview with questions about the band and one question on what they have dealt with in their lives and how they overcame that situation. The idea behind that is many fans look up to band members, so maybe by hearing them talk about such things it will give them the courage to do the same. We also sell merchandise so we are able to donate to treatment centers. I also have started speaking at schools about my struggles with addiction.
Why do you think these musicians get so involved in drugs?
Drugs and alcohol, among other issues, have always ran wild in the music industry. Look at someone like Johnny Cash, who was around when everything was more straight laced. He had a huge drug problem. From what I know, he died a sober man though. So I'm not really sure, maybe it's the fast life or something else?
Do you plan on going to any music festivals to promote this organization?
Yes! I just don't know when that will be, unfortunately. It is one of the goals though.
What do you think is the key to staying healthy/sober and also staying happy, being a musician?
Well, I got sober through a 12 step program. I take the ideas I learned there and use them in my everyday life. So, for me, the key to staying sober is being of service to others and acceptance. I think that's also the same for happiness.
What are your realistic and dream goals for this wonderful organization?
I think all my goals are realistic. It just matters how much work I want to put into it I guess, but here are a few: I want to donate to as many different treatment centers as can be. I would also like to donate to music programs and open up a youth center/venue space. That's a few, ill keep the rest under wraps for now. :)
Who do you think changed the music industry? Why?
I think every band helps change the music industry in one way or another. I mean, of course there are the big ones like Nirvana, The Beatles, Metallica... I could go on and on, but what about the lesser known bands like Bad Brains, Agnostic Front, or Operation Ivy? Now, I'm sure someone reading this who knows those bands will be like, "he named the top bands in that music scene." They're not as big as the other bands I mentioned, but they most definitely changed the game.
How can people help out?
As for right now, the best way to help out is to promote! And of course, pick up a bracelet or t-shirt!
Where do you see this company in 5 years?
I don't know to be honest with you. I'm not one to look to the future (just ask my mother, she hates that about me).
Lastly, if you could tell musicians one thing what would it be?
Keep doing what you are doing, it's beautiful!