Optus RockCorps Sydney 2013: Q&A With CEO Stephen Greene

The new Optus RockCorps project has well and truly captured the attention of young music fans in New South Wales. Hundreds of young people have signed up for the chance to see The Script, Guy Sebastian, and Tinie Tempah in an exclusive concert at Horden Pavilion on April 11, in exchange for doing four hours of community work at special projects run by the Optus RockCorps’ team in their local area.

And, as Music Feeds discovered, the initiative’s co-founder and global CEO, Stephen Greene, has been blown away by the commitment and energy of the young people embracing Optus RockCorps on its first foray into Australia.

MF: So Stephen, what are your thoughts on Optus RockCorps’ debut here in Australia so far?

SG: It’s been great. We’ve been going for two-and-a-half weeks now and I can see how well it’s working with the youth of Australia. We had a feeling it would go off well there…the love of music in Australia is so palpable. Australians are very active and involved: you give them an opportunity to do stuff and they definitely respond.”

MF: How many people have been turning up to work at the projects and earn their ticket to the concert?”

SG: The response has been tremendous: all of our volunteer projects have been over capacity. We’ve got people signing up all the time, and we’re busy every day trying to find a new great project in partnership with local non-profit organisations. So there is no question that the Hordern Pavilion will be smashing full on 11th April.

MF: Have you been able to sample the atmosphere and the vibes at the project sites on the day?

SG: It’s quite often that the volunteers will all be lined up half an hour or 45 minutes before the project starts – that is the enthusiastic behaviour unique to Australians.

I’ve been to a couple of the projects already. All our Optus RockCorps’ staff are talking with our volunteers every day, and it’s fairly common that people are excited about the topic for sure. They come for the concert ticket and are entertained by the community aspect… They have fun with their friends and meet new ones as well. As I like to say, the ticket gets you in, but the community element makes you stay.

MF: You’ve been able to secure The Script, Guy Sebastian, and Tinie Tempah for the inaugural Optus RockCorps Concert in Australia – it’s a pretty impressive line-up. Was it hard to secure their services?

SG: It was pretty easy in the end. The concept really resonates with artists, and we’re fortunate to have worked with the best in the business in the last few years, like Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg, Maroon5 and Kanye West. When you ask the artist if we can use their music to inspire 5000 young people to give something back to their community, it’s a pretty easy ask, and it often comes down to scheduling and logistics.

Optus has been a great sponsor, Guy has been a fantastic ambassador for us and The Script are really enthusiastic about it too. I know it’s going to be a great show.

We’re petty blessed when we’re able to get everyone together – the artists get really pumped up for the shows. An Optus RockCorps’ concert is like an awards show, and the audience are the real stars who are getting honoured.

MF: So we hear Labrinth and Tinie Tempah have swapped spots due to scheduling difficulties?

SG: Tinie is a dynamic performer and he is going to bring his great music to an already amazing line-up. It’s great that artists of such impressive stature are eager to support Optus RockCorps and reward Australians for the work they’re doing.

We know this is disappointing for Labrinth fans who have already given their time, but we are confident that your four hours will be well rewarded with the addition of Tinie Tempah to the amazing line-up of The Script and Guy Sebastian.

MF: You’ve been doing this for several years now and in eight different countries around the world. How does it make you feel knowing that you’ve started such a big movement?

SG: It’s a pretty wild feeling. You look back and think, we’ve had 130,000 volunteers so far, half a million hours put in to communities around the world, and all these big celebration concerts that have evolved from it. I get a lot of energy off these volunteers, and sitting on top of this movement is fantastic.

MF: Is there any act left on your wishlist that you would love on board for an Optus RockCorps’ concert?

SG: Not until I’m able to get Led Zeppelin back together! We’ve been blessed to work with some of the best artists in the world, and now that tradition is continuing here in Australia.

MF: How’s the future looking for Optus RockCorps? Are you hoping to expand the initiative’s presence here in Australia?

SG: We’re looking at doing some taster events following the show in Sydney, and projects in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide – sort of have smaller concerts but repeat the Hordern experience later down the line. So keep your eyes out for that.”

MF: And finally, are there many opportunities left for people to get involved in Optus RockCorps this year?

SG: Definitely, we’re not just working for a particular cause: we have a wide variety of partnerships, so when the volunteer signs up, we can discuss what they are interested in, and hopefully have something along those lines that you can get more involved in.

We’re still adding these projects, we just encourage people to go to the website, see what is available, and get involved.

The Optus RockCorps Concert featuring The Script, Guy Sebastian, and Tinie Tempah is on April 11 at Hordern Pavilion in Sydney. To get your free ticket to the show, you must be over 16 years of age and volunteer four hours of your time towards one of the Optus RockCorps community projects happening around Sydney. For more information and to sign up as a volunteer, visit www.optusrockcorps.com.au. You can also follow @OptusRockCorps for all the latest news and volunteer opportunities.

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