Playing For Change

For using the power of music to spread a global message of hope


Co-Founders: Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke

United States

Mark Johnson says he has always felt that nothing does more to bind the human race than the universal language of music, and the positive energy it brings. That was his vision and reason for founding Playing for Change with Whitney Kroenke in 2002. At the outset, theirs was a simple formula: Send producers to city streets and back alleys across the world, equipped with cameras and mobile recording studios, to capture local artists playing a single, well-known song. The sound is then mixed, and although the musicians are never in the same room — or even the same country or continent — they are joined in the final films, which are then spread all over the world.

Those videos have become a global sensation — they have been seen hundreds of millions of times — and now Playing For Change has supported, inspired, and united many of the great musicians they have come to know on their journeys, creating both the Playing For Change Band and the Playing For Change Foundation, which has already built five music schools and nine music programs, supporting young and aspiring musicians in Asia and around the world.