Music in Context: Rock the Vote

Rock the Vote was created in 1990 by Virgin Records music executive Jeff Ayeroff as a response to censorship of lyrics, as he’d seen it as a suppression to freedom of speech.

A campaign involving various music stars and celebrities, including Madonna was launched in collaboration with MTV. “If a kid didn’t realise the point of voting, there it was coming from their icon, doing it exactly her way, draped in a flag,” said Judy McGrath, creative Vice President of MTV at the time.   

Rock the Vote had scant impact in the 1990 midterm elections the year it was launched. But more celebrities got behind the effort in the 1992 presidential race, which saw a 12% increase in voter turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds.

The brand still exists today, and has evolved into a technology-driven resource that helps register first-time voters from underrepresented groups.