Take a random survey of people employed in the music business and ask them what they skimp on, as far as budgeting is concerned. Many will tell you it’s their own health care needs. Whether due to the sporadic nature of our paychecks; rising costs of touring, studio ownership, instruments, etc.; or the overall downturn of the economy on a whole, many of us risk our long-term security.
Just like many of you, I recently found myself needing dental work and didn’t have the needed funds on hand when I stumbled across MusiCares, a charitable division of NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences). MusiCares quickly and efficiently got me the work I needed done while reminding me that altruism is still alive, even though greed gets all the headlines.
I asked MusiCares’ executive director Debbie Carroll to share more about her organization:
PAR: What is MusiCares, and what is its mission?
Carroll: MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality.
PAR: What various types of assistance do you provide?
Carroll: We offer a wide range of services including assistance for basic living needs: rent, utilities, mortgages, car payments, medical expenses, dental needs, substance abuse treatment, prescription costs, funeral and burial expenses, stolen-instrument replacement, and so on. Each client who contacts us has a specific need; we review each case on a case-bycase basis and provide assistance based upon the individual client’s need.
PAR: What do your dental clinics entail? Are producers, engineers and/or musicians eligible? How does one apply for a clinic in their area?
Carroll: Our eligibility expands to producers, engineers, songwriters, record label employees, musicians, vocalists, tour bus drivers, managers, productioncrew members and others. Individuals do have to document that they have worked in the music industry in some capacity for at least five years or have credited contribution to six commercially recorded releases or videos (singles). Those five years don’t have to be five recent years or five consecutive years in order to qualify for assistance.
We provide dental clinics in partnership with local dentists or dental offices around the country during various times of the year. Each eligible client receives a free dental exam, X-ray and cleaning. If additional services are needed, we can often provide the follow-up care as well. These clinics are part of our Healthy Essentials program to focus on a proactive screenings and treatment, and include other types of clinics as well, such as flu shot clinics and other medical clinics.
PAR: What’s on the horizon in 2012 for MusiCares?
Carroll: We are consistently focused on expanding our outreach annually to ensure that each and every music person who may need our help knows how to reach us and is able to connect with us. We’d like to encourage folks to spread the word about our programs and services. Last fiscal year, we assisted about 2,700 music people nationally. We are on target to provide the same amount of assistance this fiscal year as well. We are expanding our dental and medical clinics substantially, and we hope more music people take advantage of those services nationally.
PAR: Please tell me about your 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year and 22nd annual benefit gala.
Carroll: Paul McCartney will be honored as the 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year at its 22nd annual benefit gala. Proceeds from the dinner and concert — to be held in Los Angeles during Grammy Week on Friday, February 10, 2012, two days prior to the 54th Annual Grammy Awards — will provide essential support for MusiCares. The legendary performer is being honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year in recognition of his singular creative accomplishments as well as his charitable work, which has included an extraordinary range of philanthropic activities over the years. For ticket information, contact MusiCares at 310.392.3777.
Contact: MusiCares | musicares.com