UMass Lowell music and business students will join forces to help one of music’s hottest performers and producers reach his fans to support LGBTQ equality.
“Pandora Challenge: Music and Social Impact,” an all-day hackathon to be held on the third floor of the Innovation Hub on Oct. 21, will bring together academia and the internet music streaming service Pandora to brainstorm for The Ally Coalition, a pet cause of performer/songwriter/producer Jack Antonoff. Teams of students will come up with ways to support the Ally Coalition’s mission of ending discrimination against LGBTQ people.
Similar events will be held simultaneously at Stanford University, the University of Southern California, New York University and Belmont University in Nashville, bringing together students to address social causes identified by other performers, including Tegan and Sara, the twin singers whose work sparked the first Pandora Challenge last May at Stanford. A performer has been linked with the event at each university. Antonoff, a Grammy winner with the bands Fun and Bleachers and producer of Taylor Swift and Lorde, is a passionate supporter of the Ally Coalition, co-founded by his designer sister Rachel.
“They each bring to the table what the other may not,” he says.
Near the end of the seven-hour session, each team will give “their best quick elevator speech,” explaining their solution, says Williams. A winner will be chosen, and their strategy will be used by Antonoff and his marketing team.
UMass Lowell got involved in the Pandora Challenge through its association with Real Industry, a nonprofit that partners with companies to help students learn real-world skills.
“We didn’t have to think about it,” he said, noting the other participants. “We were a minor league team that somehow got bumped up to a larger franchise.”
So will Antonoff be coming to campus? “Well, we’ve got a pretty high-profile artist,” says Williams. “I’m not sure, and they’re not saying one way or another. But whether he does or doesn’t, I don’t think it’s necessary. His role and his cause speak for themselves.”