The last time John Sykes teamed up with James Dolan and Harvey Weinstein for a benefit concert it was 2001's Concert For New York City, which ultimately raised $50 million for the Robin Hood Relief Fund. But next week Sykes, former president of VH1 and current president of Clear Channel Entertainment, has even higher hopes for "12-12-12," which has assembled the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Eddie Vedder, Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys, Dave Grohl, Roger Waters, Chris Martin, The Who, Kanye West and, as of Friday, The Rolling Stones to raise money for the Robin Hood Relief Fund's Hurricane Sandy efforts.
"Hopefully we'll be able to take advantage of the incredible technology explosion over the last decade and key into all the opportunities that will bring us in order to raise funds," Sykes told Billboard.biz. "At the end of the day it really is about raising the most amount of money. Everybody knows about what's happened, they understand that this is a disaster that will take years, decades to recover from. Now what we need is the people around this country and the world to give whatever they can to help these folks recover."
The concert will be aired on a wide array of media platforms, from 34 U.S. network and television feeds (at least one network from every major media company, including HBO, AMC, Fuse, IFC, G4, Ion and Fox Movie Network, with others still to be confirmed) as well as Clear Channel's own IHeartRadio platform, digital billboards in Times Square and the Facebook pages of its 850 radio stations. International partners include Fox International Channels, Sky, Sony Pictures Television Networks, Time Warner and Viacom International Media Networks. NBC's telethon for Sandy relief, which benefitted the Red Cross, raised nearly $23 million in donations over the course of its one-hour telecast that aired on over a dozen network and digital platforms.
One-hundred percent of all donations between now and 12/12/12 will go directly to the Robin Hood Relief Fund, which Sykes wanted to partner with again because of the organization's makeshift efforts in the aftermath of 9/11. "We were so impressed by how well they distributed the money, that once again we turned to them to be our partners on identifying the need and distributing the resources to those in a timely fashion."
Further aiding the cause and funding the production is a large group of corporate sponsors. Chase is the presenting sponsor, Samsung Galaxy and State Farm are platinum sponsors, Optimum, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Foundation are gold, Delta and Poland Spring are silver and Duracell Powermat, Hyundai and NRG are bronze sponsors.
And of course there's the music, which Sony will begin selling on iTunes within 24 hours of the performance. Sykes said within three days of the concert's initial concept the producers had confirmed Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel and Kanye West, with Alicia Keys, The Who and Roger Waters joining soon after. The artists themselves even played booking agent, with Waters reacing out to Eddie Vedder and McCartney tapping Dave Grohl, guided by the strength of their local ties.
"The thing about these artists is that some are American, some are British, but most of them actually live part-time or full-time in the New York area," Sykes says. "Obviously Billy, Bruce, Jon and Alicia live right here all the time, while Paul McCartney is here most of his time, as is Roger Waters. These artists are anchoring the event are really New Yorkers and New Jersey and Connecticut residents."
And though the Stones were just confirmed as the latest mega-act to join the already impressive lineup, Sykes teased the lineup may still expand come Wednesday night.
"It's incredible how the phones are ringing," he says. "I'm very proud of the lineup we have, but you never know until 12/12/12 comes what's gonna happen. Right now the focus is on promoting and driving awareness around fundraising and the actual event and downloading the music, which has already begun on Clear Channel. That's really what Harvey, Jim and I are working on and keeping all the plates spinning as we had into the night of the concert. This should hopefully be an historic evening of legends."