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John Legend Joins Forces With Music Startup to Raise Money for Sandy Relief

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | November 27, 2012 7:25am

QUEENS — Grammy-winning singer John Legend has teamed up with a popular Long Island City-based Internet streaming music service to raise money for Hurricane Sandy victims.

Legend has created a playlist called "Do Something" on Songza, an Internet start-up that streams playlists that match listeners' moods and activities.

For every unique user who listens to the playlist, Songza says it will donate 10 cents to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, with the goal of raising $10,000.

“We're strong believers that good business means doing good too,” said Elias Roman, co-founder and CEO of Songza.

The initiative kicked off after Legend met David Hirsch from Metamorphic Ventures, Songza’s investor, when both were volunteering in the Rockaways during clean-up efforts, helping with food and toiletries deliveries and collecting books for children living in the devastated area.

"We were blown away by the tragedy and we wanted to do more," said Hirsch.

He suggested Legend could create a playlist on Songza and use his fame to publicize the extent of the hurricane damage in the neighborhood.

Legend picked 40 songs for his playlist, mixing soul, funk, hip-hop and rock. It includes: "Help" by The Beatles; "I Got You" by James Brown; “Shake” by Sam Cooke; "Power" by Kanye West; “The Light” by Common; and “The Fire” by The Roots.

"We develop benefit campaigns that are fun, totally transparent to the end user, and get the community involved in helping to support an important cause,” Roman said. “The structure of the campaigns is typically that Songza makes a donation for each listener to a special playlist, in this case John Legend's 'Do Something' Mix.”

Songza serves about 2 million unique listeners in the United States alone and about 1 million in Canada, according to the company. Listeners can browse from about 100,000 free playlists on their computers and iPhones — each containing between 80 and 100 songs selected by music critics, DJs and celebrities.

Users can also create their own playlists.

The music start-up, which is based in an old lens factory on 46th Avenue in Hunters Point, has recently landed a number of new investors, including Amazon.com and Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s manager, the company said.