By Jamie Ketchum
RYFO Network provides a great amount of assistance to the touring bands we love. Nick Greenwood, founder of RYFO was gracious enough to tell us a bit more about this inspired project.
Tell us how RYFO got its start?
Most of us are enamored by the tragedies and glories we see when we watch shows like VH1’s Behind The Music. Being enamored by watching glories is fine. Tragedies, no. Why do we love watching artist’s pitfalls and wounds?! It’s sick if you think about it. We watch, in anticipation of the dirt that we know is coming. Five years ago, I was struck with a desire to come alongside these guys and girls.
A few years ago, friends of mine asked me if I’d play bass for their soon-to-be-signed Sony Records band (that will remain nameless). Without regrets, I turned down the offer just before they signed their huge record deal. Watching them get launched in to the system was exciting, though at the same time, tragic. I watched as several good friends of mine immersed themselves in to a system that didn’t want to know about their faith, values, etc., or even care about them as people. Before I knew it, their once important faith was no longer visible. Bad choices were made, and the things that went on while on tour were anything but God-honoring. This broke my heart.
Since then, I’ve been talking with anyone that would listen, asking questions, and configuring and reconfiguring ideas.
Finally, last year I made a trip out to Nashville to host a discussion forum with various music industry representatives. The product of that meeting is RYFO.org.
You’re based out of Southern California but how far does the network extend?
Ha! Well yes, I am. However, there are several very important people in various parts of the country that are intricate parts of keeping RYFO operating and moving forward.
The beauty of RYFO is that it has the potential to be a global servicing ministry. It has the potential to connect praying fans to bands all over the world. At this point, the large majority of members are Stateside, however, we do have one Host Home in Ireland, and one band in South Africa. More international involvement would be killer, though we are focusing most of our efforts in the U.S. for now.
So if I were a touring artist and I came to you with a large amount of tour dates, what could you do for me?
I would first stress how important it is to build your prayer team through RYFO.org. Having fans adopt you through RYFO.org provides you with a team of committed praying people who will actually pray for your ministry and prayer needs regularly. Post a Myspace blog or something letting them know they can support you through RYFO.
Second, I would suggest tapping in to our Host Home network, EVEN IF you are touring in a bus. Getting a home-cooked meal, a clean place to shower, and free laundry machines can be crucial!
What do you see as some of the major problems facing touring artists today?
Obvious money is big struggle for most. Many artists on RYFO.org post “provision” as a prayer request. There is less money in the industry these days, making consistent touring important to the life of a band. CD sales are down, so touring has to increase. And in that we see another problem; artists are driven to be on tour more, and therefore away from home more and more, separated from their usual systems of support, community, and accountability. Marriages are strained, a healthy understanding of true community is often distorted (or forgotten about), and so often killers like apathy begin to set in. Many Christian artists go days upon days without opening their Bibles, despite the countless hours a day they spend in their van/bus. And slowly, a once-passionate group of people potentially begin to become susceptible to attack and rendered useless for anything of lasting purpose. Even those with the best intentions are tried and tested…some fall, some make it.
Tell us a bit about how your host family program works.
As I briefly mentioned before, we pre-screen all RYFO affiliated Host Homes. Anyone interested in becoming one must first fill out a lengthy application, requiring of them specific info that we use to determine whether or not they are an ideal Host Home, and then we conduct a phone interview and call their neighbors and references. There is no guarantee that the home is 100% legit, but we do our best to determine whether or not it will be a restful, clean, encouraging place for bands to stop.
An artist will log in to the site, find a home on the RYFO Map in the area they are passing through, and message the home through the site, requesting a stay for a specific night. Typically, these homes are the most diehard prayer supporters and encouragers. Bands look forward to their stays at the Host Homes.
RYFO NETWORK is such a great idea but how do you avoid possibly crazy fans?
Again, there is no guarantee, though we do our best to weed out the crazies. We try to make it pretty clear during the initial fan registration that if you are a “super fan”, move on. Don’t make RYFO.org your home.
Though on the occasion that a crazy psycho fan does slip through, artists can let us know, and we can ban the fan from the site, or from certain site privileges. This hasn’t been needed yet, probably due to the culture of the site. It doesn’t lend itself to idiots…they don’t get too far.
What can the average fan do to help out the network and its artists?
Register. Adopt some bands. Pray for their posted prayer needs. Go to their adopted artist’s shows and bless the artists by bringing them the “needs” they post (socks, tooth paste, vitamins, sour patch kids, etc.). Apply to be a RYFO affiliated Host Home. Offer your professional services to the RYFO network (mechanics, chiropractors, restaurant owners, etc.)…let us know if you have something to offer. Spread the word about RYFO on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Buy a RYFO t-shirt. And partner financially with RYFO, a 501(c)(3).
The network just launched this last January but it appears from browsing your site that a lot of artists have signed up. Are there any bigger artists that are championing RYFO currently? How have they been helping out?
A few, though we haven’t approached any artists to specifically do this. We’ve had a few bands post some blogs, but other than that, not a ton. If there are those bands out there that believe in the care we are trying to offer, we’d excitingly welcome their help and support! We recognize the considerable influence artists have, however we do not want to abuse their positions. Therefore, we only want those artists that are passionate about “championing” this vision with us. The care needs that RYFO is attempting to meet are crucial to the success of artist’s careers, health, and faith. Bring on the ones that get that!!!
What are some goals RYFO hopes to accomplish in the near future?
We are always striving towards finding new creative and innovative ways of providing on-tour care to touring musicians. Right now we are working out some ideas that will hopefully do just that! Look for 6daytour.com this fall!
We’d also love to see prayer bridges built between bands and fans. Most fans don’t think about praying for bands. Why is this?! Most of us just don’t think t
o. We hope to see bands that join the RYFO family receive consistent prayer and help, by directing their own fans to support them through RYFO.org.
Are you a RYFO heart? from Nick Greenwood on Vimeo.
Jamie is an aspiring writer from Oregon City, Oregon. He works with the online radio station Hopecore.com as well as the non-profit organization To Write Love On Her Arms.