Over the past year, Behringer has been donating synthesizers and money to children’s charities, spurred on by YouTuber Benn Jordan. Here’s how the story developed, including the happy ending.
About a year ago recording artist and YouTuber Benn Jordan released a video about Behringer. It covered the way they are perceived, how they do business and shared his opinion on what can often be a very polarising conversation. I thought it was a balanced and helpful video that helped bring clarity to Behringer’s behaviour and how it’s perceived. You can see the original video at bottom of the article; I didn’t want it to be a distraction.
Putting all of the controversies aside there was one aspect of the video that focused on Uli Behringer’s pledge to give 1,000 synthesizers to underprivileged kids. Benn, who has been involved in non-profit music organisations, took up Uli’s invitation to help him place these synthesizers but after lots of effort was completely unable to get a response. Many people and charities he knew did the same and couldn’t find out anything about it either. So, addressing Uli directly, Benn issued him a challenge. If Behringer would match the $21,000 that Benn had raised for charity that year and prove it he would remove the video and put a Behringer 2600 in the background of every video he makes for a year.
The video got a lot of traction and was widely discussed. But the one thing that Uli Behringer pushed back on was the proposed charitable donation. Initially, the response was to say that they didn’t really want to publicise what they were doing. Paul O’Farrell Stevens, at the time head of global marketing, said he was personally in charge of the project and posted on the MusicTribe community blog a list of all the charities and organisations they are working with.
Benn followed this up by contacting a number of the listed organisations. He said none of them had received anything from Behringer or had heard about the initiative. In a response video, Benn says that “this is bigger than me being right… or getting woke points this is about giving 1,000-1,500 synthesizers to underprivileged children”.
Benn reiterated his challenge to match his donation of $21k and gives the impression that he genuinely hopes this is going to turn into something great for the kids.
There was a further update video a month later that Benn shared that showed that things were happening and there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. I found all this fascinating and I’ve been keeping an eye out for any posts Behringer made about this. Here’s what I’ve found and you can spend time trawling through their Facebook page if you want to verify the saga.
The first mention of the charity project came on 4 April 2020. Behringer shared news that after a year of working on the idea they’ve selected the organisations that meet their cause. On 14 April, Uli’s birthday, he posted a message where, amongst other things, he promoted the work of Musicians Without Borders and Playing For Change. Both organisations received a donation of $100,000 from Uli Behringer which is a life-changing amount of money for the people supported by these charities.
Behringer has since said that they’ve upped the number of synths in the scheme to 1,500 and have added headphones for good measure. In April Peduli Anak Foundation in Indonesia posted some photos of the kids playing on the synths they received.
In June ChildAid received 28 MS1 synthesizers for children in Eastern Europe.
In July Behringer shared some photos of kids and students in Rwanda receiving some synths and headphones distributed by Playing For Change.
In August, Palacio De la Musica in Uruguay posted a photo and a thank you for the donation of an MS1 synthesizer.
Around the same time, the Fundación Levántate Y Anda in Colombia received an MS1 synth.
As did Lobitos Del Selvatorium.
And La Fundación Mirá Ve el Arte.
Bambarabanda, also in Columbia, posted a video.
And a bunch went to the Xquenda Cultural Association in Mexico.
More were seen with Safe Child Thailand.
And at the Kanserli Çocuklara Umut Vakfı in Turkey.
In September we saw a post from Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy in Australia with an MS-1.
And in October, the Germany-based Manuel Neuer Kids Foundation posted a photo of one.
As did Die Gelbe Villa.
That’s an enormous array of kids, places and organisations around the world benefiting from Behringer’s donations and work with musical education. Would this have happened if Benn hadn’t brought it up and caused a stink about it? Probably. But you’ve got to hand it to Benn for stirring things up and making it more public and transparent and possibly upping the ante. Many instrument manufacturers make donations to charities all the time and perhaps it was unfair to shine a light on Behringer, who would probably rather do it behind the scenes. It’s great to see Behringer follow through on their promise.
Benn Jordan concedes
To round off this epic saga Benn has just posted a video confirming, as far as he can, what Behringer has done and celebrated the fact that these charities have received money and synthesizers which will help underprivileged kids all over the world. He is without a doubt Mr Integrity and is going to buy a Behringer 2600 to sit at the back of his videos for a year.
So, what started as an investigation video into the complex nature of Behringer – as a hero for bringing classic synths to the mass market, as a market disrupter that controversially clones current products from companies like Arturia, and as a villain for its past appalling behaviour in the community – has a very happy ending.
Benn’s original video
Note: this video may get taken down, as agreed in Benn’s original challenge.