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Founded 2004; 12 years ago (2004)
Founder Marc Brownstein
Focus Music and politics, Civic engagement, Voter registration, Voter turnout
Area served
United States
Executive Director
Andy Bernstein
Website http://www.headcount.org/

HeadCount is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit, organization that works with musicians to promote participation in democracy in the United States. It is best known for registering voters at concerts – having signed up 300,000 voters since its launch in 2004.


The organization was founded in 2004 by Marc Brownstein, bass player for the popular electronic rock band The Disco Biscuits, and his friend Andy Bernstein, author of The Pharmer's Almanac, a series of books about Phish. Bernstein now serves as executive director.


Some of HeadCount's higher profile activity includes the release of public service announcements,[1] a compilation album featuring Pearl Jam, Wilco and Phish, and various activities involving board member Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead.

HeadCount also staged the largest social media-based voter registration campaign ever as part of National Voter Registration Day, an event the organization helped create. The HeadCount campaign featured hundreds of musicians and entertainers posting "Register to Vote" photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with a link to an online voter registration form. Participants included Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Fergie (singer), Russell Simmons and The Black Keys.

Beyond concerts, HeadCount has a large presence on the Internet. It’s blog features updates on “music, politics and everything in between,”[2] and it launched a platform called #SoundOff (www.SoundOffatCongress.org) for Tweeting directly at members of Congress.

HeadCount also produced the documentary A Call to Action, which has aired on cable television. In early 2012 HeadCount conceived and produced "The Bridge Session" a live performance from Bob Weir's TRI Studios featuring Weir, members of the National and various other guests. A live webcast on Yahoo! also featured a roundtable political discussion.

The non-profit also runs the "Capitol Community" program for the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, which sends school teachers to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum for curriculum training.

Participation Row[edit]

HeadCount manages Participation Row activism villages at various music festivals including Lockn' (2013, 2014, 2015) in Arrington, VA, True Music (2013) in Scottsdale, AZ and Phases of the Moon (2014) in Danville, IL. HeadCount also put on a Participation Row for Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead in both Levi's Stadium and Soldier Field. Participation Row traditionally hosts 8-16 different non-profits, allowing concert-goers to take actions related to the non-profits. Each Participation Row has also included a silent auction of signed merchandise, with proceeds going to the participating non-profits. At the Fare Thee Well shows, the Participation Row silent auction included a D'Angelico EX-DC electric guitar signed by all 7 performers and played by Bob Weir during the second Santa Clara show. The auction for the guitar closed at $526,000 [1], making it the 18th most expensive guitar of all time [2].


Since its inception, HeadCount has been largely volunteer-driven. It fields volunteer “street teams” in most major U.S. cities. Each consists of a trained team leader who runs the local operations, and a cadre of volunteers. These teams then set up tables at concerts through which they register voters and disseminate information related to political issues and upcoming elections. This approach has allowed HeadCount to keep its operating costs low while reaching a very large number of people. In any given year, the organization sets up these tables at 500 to 1,000 concerts or more. Artists who host this activity include: Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, Jack Johnson, Wilco, Phish, MGMT, The National, John Mayer and many others.

HeadCount is based in New York City, but has volunteer street teams all over the U.S.

Artist Partners[edit]

This is a partial list of artists who have partnered with HeadCount on their tours:

Mission Statement[edit]

"HeadCount is a non-partisan organization that uses the power of music to register voters and promote participation in democracy. We reach young people and music fans where they already are – at concerts and online – to inform and empower.

Our message is not about what party you support or where you land on an issue. It’s that you must speak to be heard."


  1. ^ Vote Again 2010. Jay-Z, Dave Matthews and Headcount.org. 2010.
  2. ^ HeadCount blog.

External links[edit]