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An accomplished musician is ditching record labels and teaming up with his fans — for good.

Singer-songwriter and producer Kenna wants to be the first-ever 'one-for-one' recording artist.

An accomplished musician is ditching record labels and teaming up with his fans — for good.

The music industry can be brutal.

Everyone wants their cut: record labels — especially record labels — agents, lawyers, managers, promoters, and other grabby middlemen.

It's particularly tough on artists supporting themselves while also trying to make a positive difference in the world through their craft.


Photo by Sascha Kohlmann/Flickr.

In the age of streaming, most recording artists face a steep climb just to make a living, let alone become philanthropists.

By the time we hear the songs, much of what we spend to enjoy our favorite musicians' hard work has been scattered by the winds of industry, and little remains for social responsibility.

Research by data journalist David McCandless, for example, shows that record labels take between 81% and 86% of payouts from streaming services like Spotify.

Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images.

Musician, producer, and activist Kenna Zemedkun has worked in the music-industrial complex for years and is ready for change.

He wants to produce and sell all of his music and perform all of his concerts as a "one-for-one" artist — one who "makes a commitment to improving the world through the daily sales and business of music."

Kenna Zemedkun (left) and his father. Image from Translator Labs (screenshot).

Being a one-for-one artist, according to Kenna, means cutting out the middlemen and clearing a path for partnership with his fans.

"Instead of giving the majority of money I make to the music industry, I could just use it to benefit the causes that you and I care about."

With fan support, Kenna plans to independently produce all of his music and send half of everything he earns to important causes.

"Every time you listen to the music I produce, get tickets to my show, click 'like,' 'buy,' 'share,' ... you knew it was funding change," he says in a one-for-one kick-off video. "Instead of giving the majority of money I make to the music industry, I could just use it to benefit the causes that you and I care about."

Among Kenna's causes are getting clean water to impoverished communities, fighting for women's rights, and (naturally) expanding arts education in schools.

Kenna's pilot one-for-one project is an album called "Songs for Flight." Here's the first recorded track:

Kenna hopes the one-for-one model inspires other musicians to seize their power, connect more deeply with their fans, and make an impact.

Time will tell if the one-for-one model can change the music industry, but in the meantime, Kenna's goal is straightforward: spread the word, raise money, make art, help people. Now that's a song worth hearing on repeat.

Watch Kenna's one-for-one kick-off video:

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."