“GREAT SOUND IS EVERYWHERE” | Celebrating Seven Years of Partnership

In the heart of Luanda, Angola, a melody cuts through the din of daily life, drawing the curiosity of two young adolescents who approach to see what is going on. They follow the sound to a narrow alley a few blocks away, where Playing For Change producer Mark Johnson is recording Manu Chao, right in the middle of the street. Moments later, the two boys are given headphones so they can listen to the music. Inspired, they begin to improvise rap lines over the track.

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This scene is not just a moment of musical expression—it's a testament to the power of sound to transcend boundaries. It's here, amongst the people, where we see the true impact of Playing For Change's partnership with Audio-Technica, a collaboration that has spent the past seven years tuning into the world's heartbeat by enhancing the way we hear its music. Thus, reinforcing the belief that GREAT SOUND IS EVERYWHERE.

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How The Journey Began

The partnership between Playing For Change (PFC) and Audio-Technica was almost serendipitous, rooted deeply in shared values and a profound belief in the power of music to foster positive global change.

Long before formal discussions began, the seeds of this collaboration were sown through a genuine appreciation for Audio-Technica's products. Mark Johnson, a producer for Playing For Change, was a long-time user of Audio-Technica headphones. His choice was driven by the brand's commitment to exceptional sound quality, which was crucial for capturing the pure essence and emotion of street performances around the world. This commitment to quality sound has not been just a technical preference but a fundamental aspect of how PFC shares the world's diverse musical narratives.

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The partnership officially began when the Playing For Change team had the opportunity to meet with Audio-Technica's leadership team in the United States. The meeting revealed a mutual recognition: both organizations believed in the transformative power of music. For Audio-Technica, this was an opportunity to extend their impact beyond the realm of audio technology, to directly engage in cultural and humanitarian efforts. They were not just providing equipment; they were facilitating a global movement.

“Our original idea with Playing For Change has always been to bring the studio to the people so we are always evolving what we bring into the field for our recordings. Today is the best it's ever been and I am proud to say we use the ATH-M50x Headphones since I first saw them being used at Capitol Records during the “New Basement Tapes” with Elvis Costello and Jim James and more… The recordings sounded so good and I wanted to bring those headphones on the road with me along with my newly acquired A-T condenser mics and my Grace Lunatec mic pres.”

“Be present and humble in your life and your music, and there is no limit to the joy you can receive and create for others in the process.”

-Mark Johnson, Playing For Change co-founder and producer.

Audio-Technica, as the exclusive headphone and microphone sponsor for Playing For Change, plays a crucial role in all PFC productions by equipping the Playing For Change Band with state-of-the-art audio technology.

This partnership ensures that every performance is delivered with unmatched clarity and precision. Audio-Technica’s support allows the PFC Band to transcend cultural and geographical boundaries, bringing their message of unity and harmony to global audiences with exceptional sound quality. Through this collaboration, Audio-Technica not only enhances each concert experience but also supports the mission of connecting the world through music.

The PFC Band has recently toured in:



The PFC Band playing at the Audio Technica headquarters, located in Tokyo, Japan.


Co-founder and producer Mark Johnson jamming the guitar after their performance at the Audio Technica headquarters.


PFC Band Members Keiko Komaki, Claire Finley, with the legendary Char.



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In addition to their integral role in enhancing the sound quality of Playing For Change productions, Audio-Technica has taken a step further in their commitment to foster positive change through music. By donating high-quality microphones and headphones, they have actively supported the Playing For Change Foundation's initiatives to empower underserved communities through music education. This equipment is crucial for setting up music schools and programs where resources are scarce, allowing students to learn and express themselves musically in a professional setting.

This philanthropic gesture goes beyond mere corporate responsibility; it is a testament to Audio-Technica’s dedication to using their expertise to make a real difference. The donated equipment helps bring music education to remote and economically disadvantaged areas around the world, providing children and adolescents with the tools to not only pursue musical interests but also to foster skills that can change their lives.


In 2022, Audio-Technica celebrated its 60th anniversary by releasing a limited number of two special-edition products and donated a percentage of the proceeds to the Playing For Change Foundation, which was established to create positive change through music and arts education for marginalized and at-risk youth, most specifically in the developing world.

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See all the products here: https://www.audio-technica.com/en-us/at-mc2022

This partnership is a shining example of how collaboration can amplify impact, particularly when it aligns with a powerful cause like music education and global unity.

Not only does it enhance musical performances but also deeply affects the lives of individuals in underserved communities.

Together, they demonstrate the profound effect that comes from merging innovation in technology with a commitment to social change, making this partnership not just beneficial but transformative for people across the globe, proving that music truly is the universal language of mankind.

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