When an uninsured North Carolina music fan named Cy Rawls was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in July, his musician friends did what bands around the world do for people they love: They held a series of benefit concerts in his honor. But then a group of friends developed an idea that was truly unique: They created a homegrown music download site and solicited Rawls’ favorite bands, including Superchunk, The Rosebuds and Polvo, to donate music.
The resulting website, CyTunes.org, went
live at midnight today (Friday, Dec. 12), with music from 37 North
Carolina-based bands. The site will work pretty much like any other
online store, with users able to browse for artists, add songs to a
shopping cart and then pay through Google Checkout. Bands who want to
submit music for the site can upload their songs and artwork, and even
request free recording time from local studios affiliated with the
“When Cy was first hospitalized, like many people, I was thinking a lot
about his situation and about the various efforts underway to come to
his aid,” said Chris Rossi, a software developer and recording engineer
who has devoted much of the past few months to getting the site off the
ground. As it turned out, Rossi had just become self-employed, so he
had plenty of free time to devote to the project.
Rossi and a group of 39 volunteers did all the publicity, graphic
design, band wrangling and legal consulting for the project. Sadly,
Rawls lost his battle with cancer on Oct. 3 at age 33, but the
volunteers decided to keep going and switch the focus from helping pay
medical bills to fighting cancer in general. They even have a new
slogan: "Download Music, Downsize Cancer."
“Thankfully, not a single person, volunteer or otherwise, suggested
that we scrap the idea,” Rossi said. “We had already put in a lot of
work, and to quit, I think, would have compounded the sense of loss we
all felt already. I think it was very important for all of us,
emotionally, to follow through. “
There will be a free launch party tonight at Chapel Hill's Local 506
with music by, amongst others, The Flute Flies, a band that Ivan Howard
of the Rosebuds put together specifically for the CyTunes project. All
proceeds from CyTunes will benefit the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor
Center at Duke University, where Rawls was treated.
Visit the CyTunes site to submit your music, volunteer or contribute in other ways.
The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke
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