When the Global Poverty Project staged a benefit concert with Neil Young, the Black Keys and Foo Fighters in Central Park last fall, skeptics wondered if that nonprofit’s attempt to generate pressure on world leaders to help the poor would fade as soon as the amplifiers and guitars were put away.
But this week the charity proved it had won converts, at least within the music industry. More than 70 musicians, among them Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Bruno Mars, have pledged to give the project two tickets from each of their concerts over the next year, creating a pool of more than 20,000 tickets.
The tickets will be used as prizes to encourage people to become involved in causes like fighting poverty in the third world, eradicating polio, building schools and ending famine. To win the tickets, fans are asked to earn points by taking action through a related Web site, globalcitizen.org. They can sign petitions, pledge to volunteer their time as aid workers, write elected leaders or donate money to aid organizations. “It provides us with an opportunity to get really powerful activism worldwide,” said Hugh Evans, the chief executive of the Global Poverty Project.
The tickets will be distributed through the site starting on Thursday, and Mr. Evans expects that dozens of concerts will be listed immediately. The site will offer users two ways to get tickets: by entering a lottery after earning a low number of points, or by saving up more points to redeem for tickets directly.
Over the last nine months, Mr. Evans persuaded many of the biggest players in the music industry to back the idea, including the three major talent agencies, the two largest concert promoters, dozens of band managers and some of the biggest music festivals.
The program was the brainchild of Kelly Curtis, the manager for Pearl Jam, who came up with the plan last year after Mr. Evans asked his band to play in the Central Park concert. It caught on quickly with artists and managers because giving up two tickets for each concert is a small sacrifice — and because the causes the project supports tend not to generate controversy or alienate fans.
One artist who signed on, Dierks Bentley, said, “As a country singer, I really do try to avoid any sort of political involvement” that might “throw my fans for a loop.”
“But when it comes to poverty man, shoot,” he said. “There are so many people in this country who are struggling, and a whole other level of struggle outside our borders, and I’ve had a chance to see part of that.”
Grace Potter, the indie-rock singer from Vermont, said she and her band did not hesitate to participate. “Through the grapevine you hear about things, and sometimes you are like, ‘No thanks,’ and other times you’re like, ‘How could we not be a part of this?’ ” she said. “This was certainly one of those.”
Among the other acts taking part are Kings of Leon, Kesha, Kanye West, Depeche Mode, My Morning Jacket, John Mayer and Mr. Young. A few indie acts have joined in, including Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and Grizzly Bear. The Coachella and Bonnaroo festivals have also pledged tickets.
Mr. Evans said some managers had pledged to donate tickets to each of their bands’ shows over the next three years, and a few had said they would provide more than two tickets for each show. He said that the alliance of the talent agencies and concert promoters gave the effort influence with major artists.
“It’s been an industry-led initiative,” he said.
– Samantha Mauney
Source: New York Times
Photo: Rule York