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Organizations mix entertainment with philanthropy
Despite the music industry's recent financial hits in the age of digital music, music artists are still eager to make appearances at charity events, both publicized and not.
Kid Rock recently announced that he will perform in a May benefit concert with the struggling Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The community-supported orchestra was weakened financially last year when its musicians went on a six-month strike, resulting in the cancellation of the remainder of the season.
Kid Rock, well known for his charitable foundation and dedication to helping those in and around his native Detroit, MI, also held a series of 12 charity concerts across the U.S. last fall as part of his "Underplay" club tour. Performing in cities including Atlanta, GA, Nashville, TN, and Buffalo, NY, the musician donated proceeds to local charities such as the Boys and Girls Clubs and My Stuff Bags, both of which provide clothing and necessities for children in crisis.
Rock legend Bruce Springsteen recently made a more low-profile appearance at a benefit for a departed friend.
On Feb. 25, Springsteen made a surprise stop at The Press Room in Asbury Park, NJ, to play at a benefit for Tony Strollo, his former trainer who died unexpectedly at the age of 40. The musician backed Tony's brother on guitar for several songs and then played a six song set for the approximately 200 people in attendance.
This type of charitable work is certainly nothing new, but what is new is the growing popularity of organizations that are working to provide such opportunities for celebrities and their fans.
Launched in 2005, Charitybuzz.com raises money for non-profit organizations through celebrity auctions of everything from autographed guitars to meet-and-greets. Some of the organization's latest offers include backstage passes and walk-ons for a number of Broadway shows.
Fans of "Chicago" can bid on a chance to meet Christie Brinkley following her performance as Roxie Hart at the Ambassador Theatre. Those with different tastes may wish instead to bid on appearing in the finale of "Rock of Ages" in full makeup and costume, leaving with a guitar signed by the cast. Proceeds for the "Chicago" event go to The New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, and for "Rock of Ages" to The Young Storytellers Foundation.
Launched in 2005 by Priceline.com co-founder Jord Poster, Ticketsforcharity.com is a charitable giving platform that partners with music artists in donating a portion of ticket sales to their favorite causes. Its first ever collaboration was with the Rolling Stones on their A Bigger Bang tour, and the effort was met with great success.
Since that time, the Ticketsforcharity.com has partnered with more than 50 artists, including James Taylor, Tim McGraw and The Black Keys, and the site has plans to expand this year into the hip hop and urban music markets. Benefitting charities include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Feeding America, and Habitat for Humanity.
"[For the artists], it's a zero-cost opportunity to have a major impact with your fans on causes you care about,' Vice President of Partnership Development Kate Brandeis recently told TicketNews. "To fans, for no additional cost you can support a cause you care about with your purchase.
"And at the end of the day no one is paying more for this experience. Neither the artist nor promoter nor venue is sacrificing a penny to be able to offer that strong value proposition."
Brandeis is particularly proud of a recent promotion with performer Katy Perry.
"We had a hugely successful program on her California Dreams tour, where she benefitted the Humane Society, Generosity Water, and Children's Health Fund. Because of the funds raised from these tickets, Generosity Water has been able to build five wells in Ghana and other African countries."
Until his recent forced tour cancellation, John Mayer had planned to work with Tickets-for-Charity to donate proceeds from third row seats to returning veterans.
"This is a way of magnifying the impact on a cause [an artist] may already be involved in," added Brandeis. "It's a very cool intersection of entertainment and philanthropy."