Some of the most powerful touring artists in the world -- Beyoncé, Black Sabbath, Dixie Chicks, Foo Fighters, Jay-Z, Kings Of Leon, Nine Inch Nails, No Doubt, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Kanye West, Neil Young and dozens more -- will unite behind the Global Poverty Project (GPP) through the Global Citizen Tickets Initiative, a new program launched May 2 designed to incentivize social activism with concert tickets.
The lists of artists involved, while impressive, is not a shocker, given artists routinely unite for philanthropic causes. What’s really intriguing for industry watchers is the power and diversity of the names behind the artists, with a group of industry power brokers, many of them fierce competitors, joining forces in a way the live music industry has rarely seen.
Committee members include: Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis; Michele Anthony, Chairwoman of the Global Citizen Tickets Initiative, 7H Entertainment; Mark Campana, Live Nation; Judy McGrath, MTV; Elliot Groffman, Carroll, Guido & Groffman, LLP; Sara Newkirk, WME Entertainment; Jane Rosenthal, Tribeca Film Festival; Marsha Vlasic, ICM Partners; Michele Bernstein, WME Entertainment; Marc Geiger, WME Entertainment; Rob Light, CAA; Brian Murphy, Goldenvoice/AEG Live; attorney Aaron D. Rosenberg; John Silva, SAM Music; Nicole Vandenberg, Vandenberg Communications; Danny Rogers, Lunatic Entertainment; Hugh Evans and Jane Atkinson from Global Poverty Project; and Ryan Gall, the Riot House and co-founder of Global Citizen.
Three things were the catalyst to bring this group of cats and dogs together: the purity of the cause; the platform developed by Global Poverty Project CEO Hugh Evans and his team; and the industry gravitas of Pearl Jam and the band’s manager Kelly Curtis, whose “tickets/social activism” idea is the conceptual source of the Global Citizen Tickets Initiative.
“The Global Citizen platform has been a dream that we’ve had at the Global Poverty Project for a long time,” says Evans, “but through the partnership with Kelly Curtis and the folks at Pearl Jam, I’d say the ideas and methodology have evolved significantly, so much so that now I would credit Kelly Curtis as the genesis of the Global Citizens Tickets campaign.”
To date, participating artists include: Alabama Shakes, Animal Collective, Beirut, Tony Bennett, Dierks Bentley, Beyoncé, Black Sabbath, Bruce Springsteen, CANT, Brandi Carlile, Chvrches, Crystal Castles, Depeche Mode, the Disco Biscuits, Dixie Chicks, Drive-By Truckers, Fareoh, Fleet Foxes, Foo Fighters, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Gotye, Grizzly Bear, Heart, Bruce Hornsby, Jay-Z, JBM, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), the Joy Formidable, Kaiser Chiefs, Ke$ha, Angelique Kidjo, Kings Of Leon, Sondre Lerche, Linkin Park, Los Lobos, Taj Mahal, Vusi Mahlasela, Bruno Mars, John Mayer, Tim McGraw, Menomena, My Morning Jacket, Nine Inch Nails, No Doubt, One Direction, Ozomatli, Ozzy Osbourne, Pearl Jam, Portugal. The Man, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Slightly Stoopid, Soundgarden, the String Cheese Incident, Temper Trap, Usher, the Vaccines, the War on Drugs, Kanye West and Neil Young.
To parlay good works into live music, fans can take a variety of social actions, ranging from signing petitions to calling their representatives, to earn points they can use to win free tickets to concerts. The effort will engage thousands to take action and shine a spotlight on issues related to extreme poverty, including: polio, malaria, women’s empowerment, education, and other non-partisan causes.
The simplicity of Global Citizen’s innovative online platform and mobile application makes such a broad program feasible. Fans simply register at globalcitizen.org/tickets, where they can earn points for each action they take, from sharing a video on Facebook to signing a petition, with those points becoming the “currency” to win free concert tickets.
Curtis had long considered a ticket/reward scenario, and the Global Poverty Project, which staged the Global Citizen Festival in New York’s Central Park last year, showcased a platform that works. That show, with Neil Young with Crazy Horse, Foo Fighters, the Black Keys, Band of Horses and K’Naan, saw 60,000 people earn tickets by participating in specific activism using the same digital platform and technology that will be employed for this new initiative.
Evans says the Global Citizens Festival in Central Park demonstrated that citizens will respond to the incentive of music tickets to take action in support of the world’s poor. “We saw close to 700,000 actions taken in just one month before the Global Citizens Festival, with over 3 million unique viewers in that month leading up to it,” he says. “I think what we demonstrated is that the site is immensely powerful, the platform works, the technology works, and that, in partnership with the music industry, can be an enormous incentive for activists to really do the things they care about, which is taking actions in support of the world’s most vulnerable people.”
At a certain point level, fans either enter a lottery for tickets (potentially multiple times), or “cash in” their points for tickets, depending on the methodology of a given artist or show. Some actions are worth more than others, based on the amount of effort required, Evans explains. For instance, sharing a video on Facebook or twitter is worth one point. Signing a petition that helps demonstrate public support for a government or business to take action receives two points. “E-mailing a senator’s office is an even higher threshold, and clearly demonstrates that you care about an issue, so it’s worth five points,” Evans says. “The currency is effort, and we’ve set up an economy looking at how many points we have in the system, how many users are vying for those points, and how many tickets do we have available at any point in time.”
The Global Poverty Project’s nonprofit partners include: ONE, Malaria No More, Living on One, Transparency International, and The ISIS Foundation, among others. The group seks to address some of the greatest global challenges of our time, including polio and malaria, women’s empowerment, food security, access to education, and more. “My hope is a kid in Sacramento could get on there and there would be 100 things he could go for,” says Curtis.
Michele Anthony, an industry consultant for artists including Pearl Jam, says the universal appeal and non-partisan nature of these poverty related issues make buy-in uncomplicated for artists and fans alike. “Extreme poverty is the through-line to the world’s greatest challenges,” she says. “Whether it’s access to education, food security, infant mortality, disease, it’s really extreme poverty that is the heart of all of that. It’s incredible to think that such an easy ask as giving two tickets can make a dent in that once you reach critical mass, because kids are taking action in specific ways.”
Curtis adds that the best-case scenario would be, “every event in the world has access to two tickets, and we’re literally engaging hundreds of thousands of people a day to be socially active.” And then? “Saving the world.”