1 Million Strong seeks to transform the way people think about addiction and recovery

People in the 1 Million Strong Sober Space at the 2022 Bourbon & Beyond festival

Recovering from alcohol and drug addiction often focuses on what people need to give up, rather than turning them onto all that they can gain in life.

If a person is a live music lover, sobriety can mean turning off the music — at least temporarily. “It can often feel scary for people who are sober to then return to the things they once did like concerts,” Stand Together Music General Manager Colette Weintraub told Billboard.

It shouldn’t have to be this way.

That’s why Stand Together Music and The Phoenix, a nonprofit whose mission is to build a community where former substance users can rise and recover together, recently launched 1 Million Strong. The initiative will work with artists, venues, and festival sponsors to create sober spaces at live music events throughout the country.

“[C]hoosing recovery shouldn’t mean giving up, it should mean gaining so much more,” Phoenix Founder and Executive Director Scott Strode told Billboard.

Working with the music industry, 1 Million Strong will provide sober-supportive spaces where fans can listen to music without drugs or alcohol, and it will help individuals find other people to attend shows with. These groups will form emotional support structures.

Festival producers like Danny Wimmer Presents (DWP) have committed to making sober spaces front and center at their events. The sober space at the 2022 Bourbon & Beyond festival welcomed more than 5,000 guests.

“It was really important for us that our sober fans attending Bourbon & Beyond knew that they had a place to go, that they were welcomed and there’s a community that was here to support them, so that they could enjoy the festival just as much as anyone else,” said DWP chief marketing officer Chamie McCurry told Billboard.

Learn more about Stand Together’s issue areas.

Read more about 1 Million Strong.