Stars bring in big dollars for 121212 Sandy Relief Concert

Amidst the complaints of America’s high-speed dash towards the “fiscal cliff” it was fantastic to see such an amazing turnout for the 121212 Concert for Sandy Relief. The show was a success on a number of fronts and a great demonstration of the power of celebrity to raise awareness and lots of money.

The eastern seaboard of the U.S. took a beating when Hurricane Sandy hit last October. It left people without power, heat and homes; the Associated Press reports that 125 deaths were caused and 305,000 housing units were destroyed in New York state alone. Damage is up around the $50 billion mark. To combat the devastation in true national fashion America brought in the big boys to raise big dollars for Robin Hood Relief Fund, of which they claim 100 per cent will be used for disaster victims.

The concert was held on December 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and broadcast to nearly two billion people worldwide. It was a testament to the power of the Internet and social media to bring the masses together, in this case for a great cause.

And although viewers tuned in to provide support, they also tuned in because of the all-star lineup. For six hours, celebrities praised American hurricane heroes while the likes of Roger Waters, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Alicia Keys and Paul McCartney performed to a full stadium.

While being so far away forced me to watch this one on the big screen at home it was still memorable. It’s too bad it takes a natural disaster for Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder to come on stage and sing the chorus to Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” or for Paul McCartney to collaborate with the reunited Nirvana-sans-Kurt Cobain, or for R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe to join Coldplay’s Chris Martin on-stage. While the show comprised mostly older male rockers—Alicia Keys was the only female and Kanye West was the only rapper—it was the ultimate rock and roll festival lineup.

Some of the song choices did however seem off for a relief concert when Kanye performed “Gold Digger” and Bon Jovi played “Wanted Dead or Alive.”

In the end LiveOps, Inc. announced that $14.8 million was raised between the two telethons surrounding the event. An ongoing online auction will raise more funds, particularly from the Fender bass guitar autographed by Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Roger Daltry, Billy Joel, Dave Grohl, Chris Martin, Michael Stipe, Eric Clapton, Jon Bon Jovi, and more which was going for $38,600 on December 16.

The concert itself took over $30 million in ticket sales, sponsorships and corporate donations, according to Robin Hood Relief Fund. Tickets, originally priced between $150 and $2,500 were being scalped online for about twice their purchase price.

How wrong is it to scalp tickets to a charity concert? Wrong enough for StubHub, who said they couldn’t track which tickets were scalped through their online platform, to give more than $500,000 to Robin Hood Relief Fund.

The 121212 concert certainly showed the power of media and celebrity to convince people to shed a few dollars from their wallets. I’m sure this was a record-breaker on a few levels and it was great to see the world help out people in need, even if it took a star lineup to get them to do it.

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