Man dies after New York concert backflip
A man has died after falling from a balcony at a Dead and Company concert in New York last Friday.
Drinks entrepreneur Ian Crystal, 46, fell up to 50’ (15m) onto concrete after allegedly attempting a backflip during an interval at the show, held at the 42,000-capacity Citi Field stadium on 20 August.
According to local media, Brooklyn resident Crystal was found unresponsive at the scene after hitting the ground headfirst.
Crystal (pictured) , who is thought to have jumped from a second-floor concourse, was pronounced dead at arrival at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Queens, the New York Post reports.
“Our deepest and heartfelt condolences go out to all the attendee’s loved ones”
A driver outside the stadium said he saw the man later identified as Crystal “flip” before falling and slamming into the ground below, the Post adds.
Harold Kaufman, a spokesperson for the New York Mets, who play at Citi Field, told CNN the following day: “We are aware of a tragic incident which sadly resulted in a fatality last night. Our deepest and heartfelt condolences go out to all the attendee’s loved ones.”
Crystal was the CEO of Evolution Spirits, which produces Monkey Spiced Rum, and formerly worked with brands including Abolsut Vodka, Malibu Rum, and Stoli Vodka, collaborating with artists including Jay-Z, Swedish House Mafia and Ne-Yo.
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Storm Henri disrupts US concert comeback
We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert, the star-studded show held in New York’s Central Park on Saturday 21 August, became the biggest victim of Hurricane Henri, the tropical storm which battered New England and the north-eastern United States over the weekend.
The concert, first announced by the mayor of New York city, Bill de Blasio, in June, was put together by veteran label exec Clive Davis in association with Live Nation and was to have featured performances by Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Paul Simon, the Killers, Jennifer Hudson, Run DMC, Carlos Santana, LL Cool J, Andrea Bocelli and more. However, the 60,000-strong crowd were asked to leave Central Park early – at around 8pm, during Barry Manilow’s set, and before Springsteen, Simon and the Killers could take the stage – as the heavens opened and lightning filled the sky.
While most tickets for the show were given free to New York residents, VIP tickets were available, priced between US$399 and $5,000, according to AP.
De Blasio acknowledged that “while it’s disappointing that tonight’s concert had to end early”, the lightning meant that authorities had no choice but to end the show early: “the safety of everyone in attendance had to come first.”
While it's disappointing that tonight's concert had to end early, the safety of everyone in attendance had to come first.
To everyone who came out tonight: thank you. Thank you for showing the world that New York City is coming back stronger than ever before.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) August 22, 2021
Other events were also called off after the state of New York declared a state of emergency on Saturday morning ahead of Henri (now downgraded to a tropical storm) making landfall.
Eagles’ highly anticipated return to Madison Square Garden, part of the band’s Hotel California tour, on Sunday (22 August) was cancelled by the arena, as was a Jason Mraz show at Mohegan Sun Arena (10,000-cap.) in Uncasville, Connecticut, the same night.
Elsewhere in Connecticut, Kiss’s show at the 30,000-capacity Xfinity Theatre in Hartford will now take place tonight (23 August) after being postponed from Sunday due to the hurricane.
Sporting events such as the PGA Tour golf tournament, which is in New Jersey, also cancelled or postponed scheduled fixtures.
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Global Citizen returns with Paris, NY, Nigeria shows
Global Citizen Live has announced the line-ups for the upcoming benefit concerts in New York, Paris and Lagos, Nigeria, which will raise funds to combat poverty and provide greater access to Covid-19 vaccines.
The three concerts will take place on 25 September, alongside simultaneous events in London, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, Los Angeles, Sydney and more cities still to be announced. The Global Citizen Live events, which will be broadcast live around the world, are part of of Global Citizen’s ‘Recovery Plan for the World’, a year-long campaign which calls on governments, philanthropists and the private sector to commit financially to the global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Global Citizen Live follows previous Global Citizen events including Global Goal: Unite for Our Future, which took place last summer and raised funds for vaccine development, and 2021’s Vax Live, which focused on securing equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.
In New York, Coldplay, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello, Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo, Meek Mill, Shawn Mendes, Alessia Cara, Burna Boy, Cyndi Lauper, Jon Batiste and Lang Lang will perform on the Great Lawn in Central Park, while the Paris event, held on the Champ de Mars, will feature Ed Sheeran, Doja Cat, DJ Snake, HER, Black Eyed Peas, Christine and the Queens and Angélique Kidjo. The Lagos concert (venue TBC) will include performances from Femi Kuti, Davido, Tiwa Savage and Made Kuti.
Coinciding with the UN general assembly preceding the G20 meeting (October) and Cop26 summit (November), Global Citizen Live focus will call on leaders to fund:
- A billion trees planted and preserved to help prevent global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels, by curbing emissions and supporting 1t.org;
- A billion vaccines delivered to the poorest countries
- Meals for the 41 million people on the brink of famine
“This remains a global crisis … It will only end with global equitable access to vaccines”
Katie Hill, senior vice-president and head of music, entertainment and artist relations for Global Citizen, says: “Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen music bring communities together and inspire action during one of the most challenging times of our generation. We’re excited to join these incredible artists to unite people across the globe on 25 September as we hold world leaders and business leaders accountable to rectify the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As we carefully resume Global Citizen’s live events, we couldn’t be more grateful to each of these artists for donating their time and performances to make an impact through this urgent campaign.”
David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme, adds: “Global Citizen’s support is critical as we all work together to reach the most vulnerable people and communities. We’re facing an unprecedented crisis in 2021: 41 million people have famine literally knocking at the door. The price tag to stop their suffering is about US$6 billion. We need funding and we need it now.”
“As wealthy countries are well on their way to reopening and returning to normal life, we now face a two-track pandemic of haves and have-nots,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, comments. “Over 75% of the more than 4bn doses administered to date have occurred in just ten countries, while only 1% of people in low-income countries have received a dose. We cannot disregard this gross inequity or become complacent.
“This remains a global crisis, with emerging variants emanating from under-vaccinated parts of the world continuing to threaten everyone’s lives and livelihoods. It will only end with global equitable access to vaccines and other life-saving medical supplies. That’s why I am pleased to support Global Citizen Live and join Global Citizen in their calls to public and private leaders to share the doses, financing, knowledge, technology and political solidarity needed to end this pandemic.”
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Richard Krezwick announces departure from ASM Global
ASM Global’s chief commercial officer Richard Krezwick has announced his departure from the company.
Krezwick, who has spent more than four decades in live events, announced on LinkedIn that he is to pursue new opportunities from September after concluding his notice period.
His previous roles include senior vice president facilities at AEG Europe from 2014 to 2018, in which he was responsible for all of the group’s venues in Europe including the O2 in London, Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, AccorHotels Arena in Paris, the SSE Hydro in Glasgow and Friends Arena in Stockholm.
He also spent four years as president of Devils Arena Entertainment, New Jersey, from 2009 to 2013, as well as two years as regional vice-president of AEG Facilities from 2007 to 2009.
“I’m looking forward to doing all I can for ASM in the coming weeks, then start brewing some entrepreneurial ideas”
“I realised my entire career has been like driving the Autobahn… full throttle… every day, pedal to the metal,” he wrote. “From the old Spectrum in Philly, around the world and back to ASM in Philly where it all began. It’s time to exit the highway once in a while and take the road less travelled.”
“I’m looking forward to doing all I can for ASM in the coming weeks, then start brewing some entrepreneurial ideas, doing a few deals and staying close to the business that’s been so good to me and my family, for so many years. Stay tuned…” he concluded.
Uwe Frommhold, AEG chief operating officer, wrote: “Thanks for everything Rich! Has been a great pleasure to join you for a couple of ‘fast rides’ on the German Autobahn. Hope to see you again over here soon – there are lots of nice roads still to be taken at a slower pace!”
Marie Lindqvist, senior vice-president Europe at ASM Global, wrote: “You challenged me, believed in my capabilities and taught me so much about our amazing industry. For that, I will always be grateful. I wish you the best of luck in your next phase and look forward to meeting soon. Hopefully in a sold-out arena!”
John Langford, AEG Europe chief operating officer, wrote: “Good luck boss. It’s been a pleasure sitting shotgun on parts of the journey.”
New York to require Covid-19 vax for all indoor shows
New York City, one of the world’s live music capitals, will soon require proof of being vaccinated for anyone who wants to attend an indoor live show, mayor Bill de Blasio announced today (3 August).
The strict new requirements will be extended to other indoor activities, including dining at a restaurant and working out at in the gym, throughout August and September, as the city seeks to stop the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, reports the Associated Press.
New York is the first major city to impose such restrictions, though some venues already have similar requirements: Iconic arena Madison Square Garden, for example, has required all fans to be fully vaccinated for its non-socially distanced events since the Foo Fighters’ huge show in June. (Interestingly, the city mandate won’t require ‘full’/double vaccinations – only the first jab.)
“If we’re going to stop the delta variant, the time is now. And that means getting vaccinated”
According to AP, the policy will come into effect on 16 August but inspections and enforcement won’t begin until 13 September, when the city’s schools reopen. About 66% of adults in New York are fully vaccinated, according to official data.
De Blasio has so far rejected calls to require masks indoors, as some cities in California have, focusing instead on getting the city’s population immunised against the virus.
“The only way to patronise these establishments indoors will be if you’re vaccinated,” says de Blasio, whose office administers a city of over eight million people.“The goal here is to convince everyone that this is the time. If we’re going to stop the delta variant, the time is now. And that means getting vaccinated right now.”
Industry divided over vaccinated-only concerts
Nearly six months after Maggie Keenan, a 90-year-old Briton, became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial, opinion remains divided among international live music professionals about how, if at all, fans’ vaccination status should be taken into account as live activity resumes.
Nowhere is this more the case than in the United States, where the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) say that those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (i.e. had both jabs of one of the three vaccines, BioNTech/Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson or Moderna, approved for use in the US) may once again attend indoor events, including concerts, with no need for social distancing or mask wearing.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky told press at the White House earlier this month. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”
Following the CDC’s announcement, some of the country’s most famous concert venues, including the 20,000-capacity Madison Square Garden arena in New York and Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl (17,500-cap.), have signalled they will differentiate between vaccinated and non-vaccinated patrons when they reopen, with the latter planning designated vaccinated seating sections where no social distancing will be required.
MSG, along with other venues in New York, will be allowed to reopen at 100% capacity if patrons show proof of vaccination, under plans drawn up by New York state governor Andrew Cuomo. It hosted 15,000 people for a New York Knicks basketball game earlier this week, with vaccinated fans not required to wear a face covering.
New York venues will be allowed to reopen at 100% capacity if they require patrons to show proof of vaccination
In Florida, meanwhile, a concert promoter made headlines yesterday (26 May) after announcing plans for a ‘no-vax tax’ that would see concertgoers charged 50 times as much for tickets should they choose not to get the vaccine.
Leadfoot Promotions, which is promoting a show by pop-punk legends Teenage Bottlerocket in Saint Petersburg on 26 June, explains: “DISCOUNTED tickets are available for $18 in advance, $20 day of show. To be eligible for the DISCOUNT, you will need to bring a government issued photo ID and your PHYSICAL COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. […] If you do not care about the discount, tickets are available for a flat rate of $999.99.
“Note that all staff, volunteers, and band members will be vaccinated. Also know if you buy one of these advance tickets and show up without your vaccination card or government issued photo id [sic], you won’t be let in at this price, you will need to pay the remaining $981.99 to enter or go back and get your card. There will be NO REFUNDS. We are NOT telling you what to do here, we are making a business decision and letting the market decide. If someone wants to come in unvaccinated, they will scare off a large number of patrons and will need to pay the difference.”
Speaking to Tampa Bay’s ABC Action News, Leadfoot’s Paul Williams explains: “We’re just trying to do a show safely. And they [fans] should go out and get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families and their community.”
Back in New York, baseball team the Brooklyn Nets is also incentivising immunisation by charging more for tickets sold to fans who have yet to receive both vaccines, as well as introducing a Hollywood Bowl-style vaccinated-only section at its home venue, the 19,000-capacity Barclays Center.
“We are not telling you what to do – we are making a business decision and letting the market decide”
Williams says he came up with idea of a ‘tax’ after realising in Florida he probably couldn’t legally restrict entry to those who can prove their vaccination status.
In contrast to the position taken by Cuomo in New York – where a planned ‘Excelsior pass’ will verify New Yorkers’ vaccination status – Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has taken a hard line on vaccine certification, having signed into law a ban on so-called vaccine passports earlier this month.
“Under no circumstances will the state be asking you to show proof of vaccination,” said DeSantis, “and I don’t think private companies should be doing that either. If you want to go to an event, go to an event. If you don’t, don’t. But to be requiring people to provide all this proof, that’s not how you get society back to normal.”
The launch of the Excelsior pass follows the successful roll-out of the similar green pass in Israel, where promoters were once again putting on (non-socially distanced) shows before the recent flare-up in violence. In fact, so successful is the combination of vaccination + certification that Israel will axe all restrictions – including the green pass – from the beginning of June, though health minister Yuli Edelstein says it could be re-introduced should the situation change. For now, he said, “The economy and the citizens of Israel will get extra room to breathe.”
Despite allowing for concerts of thousands of people in pandemic conditions, the green pass programme is not without its critics: writing in the UK’s Daily Telegraph today (27 May), five Israeli doctors say the scheme has ‘backfired’ by creating “two classes of citizens: the upper vaccinated and the lower unvaccinated”. This situation, they say, has resulted in a situation incompatible with the “basic principles of the medical profession”.
Talk of vaccine ‘passports’ is equally controversial in the UK, where critics warn of government overreach and an ‘us and them’ society divided along vaccination lines. As such, the UK live business is pushing for a system of certification that would also include people who have natural immunity to the virus, or who can produce a negative Covid-19 test.
“The intention of Covid-status certification is to find a non-discriminatory solution”
Writing to the government last month, a cross-section of the UK live entertainment, events and sports sector suggested that so-called Covid-status certification is the key to reopening venues safely following the planned abolition of all restrictions on 21 June.
“Not to be confused with the term ‘vaccination passports’, the simple premise is to reduce the likelihood of people who may be infected from attending events and ensure the safety of other attendees and event staff,” say the signatories, who include AEG Europe, the Concert Promoters’ Association, Ticketmaster, ASM Global and umbrella body LIVE. “This would be managed by ensuring that all attendees are either vaccinated OR have natural immunity OR have a negative Covid test within a set period of time prior to arrival.”
Unlike restricting entry only to those who have had the vaccine, certification would not discriminate against those who cannot have the vaccine for medical reasons, or otherwise don’t feel comfortable having being immunised against the virus, they say.
“The intention of Covid-status certification is to find a non-discriminatory solution that is safe, simple, protects privacy and doesn’t cause unnecessary delays or a poor experience for visitors,” the letter reads.
Outside of live events, vaccine passports are also being trialled for international travel, with the European Union, China and Japan among those developing digital vaccination certificates to enable the resumption of overseas holidays from this summer.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
Merch company Playbill expands in New York
Platypus Productions, part of Australia-based global merchandising group Playbill, has announced the appointment of Steven Downing as chief merchandise officer, live entertainment, based in New York.
Downing brings to more than 25 years’ industry experience, including from the Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros’ merchandising departments, to Platypus, where he will oversee creative, operations and strategic planning for the company’s theatre and live events merchandise division, reporting to Playbill managing director Michael Nebenzahl.
“Steven’s international reputation and successful history in the live entertainment merchandise field is a tremendous asset for us,” says Nebenzahl. “His creativity, dedication and hands-on collaborative approach in support of the world’s most beloved stage productions has earned him a reputation as a global leader.
“Steven has a wealth of knowledge, experience and a unique creative talent, which will support our continued growth in live entertainment merchandising around the world. We’re delighted to welcome Steven to our growing global team.”
The Playbill Group of Companies operates in ten countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, South Africa, Germany, the UK and the USA. Merchandise clients include Les Misérables, Leo Sayer, Tina Arena, The Lion King, the New South Wales Waratahs, Mary Poppins, the Sydney Roosters, André Rieu, Diana Krall and The Phantom of the Opera.
“With live theatre reopening worldwide, I’m excited to work with Platypus during such an important time,” says Downing. “This opportunity allows me to develop new and innovative ways of partnering with producers, supporting each production and brand while elevating the theatre experience. I feel there are no limits to our potential accomplishments in this new era of live entertainment.”
NY venues that ask for proof of vax can fully reopen
New York venues are now permitted to return to full capacity, instead of one-third full, if they require patrons to show proof of vaccination.
Major venues including Madison Square Garden (MSG) and Radio City Hall have already announced plans that centre around attendees who have been fully vaccinated.
Radio City Hall (cap 6,015) is set to reopen on 19 June at full capacity, exclusively for citizens who have been fully vaccinated, which counts for 44.6% of New Yorkers.
The news was announced by New York City governor Andrew Cuomo last week (17 May), during a conference held inside the music hall.
“Having Radio City back at 100%, without masks, with people enjoying New York, and the New York arts, is going to be not only symbolic and metaphoric; but I think it’s going to go a long way toward bringing back this state,” he said.
“This is going to be not only symbolic and metaphoric; but I think it’s going to go a long way toward bringing back this state”
James Dolan, executive chairman of the MSG Company, which owns Radio City Music Hall, confirmed the venue is set to remain open and operate as usual beyond 19 June.
It’s not clear how the venue would check people’s vaccination status, but it’s likely that the Excelsior Pass will be used.
The app, launched by New York state, verifies proof of Covid-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination with art and entertainment venues and businesses by using a scannable QR code. It was tested during the Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Centre on 27 February and during the New York Rangers game on 2 March at MSG.
Yesterday (23 May), MSG welcomed 15,000 fans to watch the first round of the NBA playoffs, marking the largest indoor gathering for New York state since the start of the pandemic.
Last week, governor Cuomo announced that the city’s basketball teams, the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, would have fully vaccinated fan sections, increasing the capacity at MSG and the Barclays Centre.
According to Dolan, almost 90% of last night’s audience had been vaccinated and therefore, were not required to socially distance or wear masks when seated.
“The public has spoken – they are fine with getting vaccinated and want to get back to the experiences they love”
“I hope everyone in sports and entertainment is listening because the public has spoken – they are fine with getting vaccinated and want to get back to the experiences they love,” said Dolan.
“This overwhelming response by Knicks fans – almost 90% of whom are vaccinated – should silence any doubters. It’s time to start booking events and filling up our schedules, so stay tuned. We want to thank governor Cuomo for this leap forward; he knew we could do this – not just for us, but for New York.”
New York treads a similar path as Israel, which requires citizens to be doubly vaccinated to gain access to concerts, gyms, swimming pools, theatres and hotels.
Israelis’ vaccination status is verified by the Green Pass – a certificate issued by the ministry of health showing they had received both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior to the event or that they had recovered from Covid-19 and were presumed immune.
The ethical implications of implementing vaccine passports have been hotly debated around the world. Last week, in IQ’s first-ever Recovery Sessions, a number of experts hailing from Tel Aviv to London debated the topics of test certificates and vaccine passports.
IQ subscribers can watch the Recovery Sessions on-demand here.
NY launches Covid-19 pass to fast-track return to live
New York has become the first US state to launch a digital Covid-19 pass that shows citizens’ vaccination status and test results, in an effort to help venues welcome larger groups.
Madison Square Garden (cap. 20,789) in New York City and the Times Union Center (cap. 17,500) in Albany are among the major venues that have already announced they will begin to utilise the Excelsior Pass in the coming weeks.
Smaller arts, entertainment and event venues will be able to use the Excelsior Pass from 2 April.
The pass can either be printed out or stored on smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app. Each pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of Covid-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of the Excelsior Pass, developed in partnership with IBM, on Friday (26 March).
“New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back Covid, and the innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure,” said governor Cuomo.
“The Excelsior Pass will play an important role in allowing people to gather safely, which will be critical to NY’s recovery”
“The question of ‘public health or the economy’ has always been a false choice — the answer must be both. As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening,” he said.
James Dolan, executive chairman, MSG Sports and executive chairman and CEO, MSG Entertainment, says: “We are grateful the state is focused on doing everything possible to reopen businesses across our region safely and quickly. The Excelsior Pass will play an important role in allowing people to gather safely, which will be critical to New York’s recovery. We were proud to be part of the Excelsior Pass pilot and look forward to participating in the programme.”
Madison Square Garden (MSG) was part of the pilot programme to test the Excelsior Pass.
The initial phase of the pilot took place during a Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center (cap. 19,000) on 27 February and was tested for a second time during a New York Rangers game at MSG on 2 March.
Following that, major stadiums and arenas in New York were permitted to reopen with a capacity of 10% from 23 February, using guidelines based on the testing programme.
Similar ‘vaccine passports’ are already being developed, or are under consideration, in a number of European Union countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic and Cyprus.
An EU-wide vaccine passport that could replace the piecemeal approach currently being pursued by individual member states, was put forward last week.
United at Home: How David Guetta live streams raised millions
United at Home, David Guetta’s free-to-access lockdown livestream series, has raised more than US$2 million for charity to date – over half a million dollars per show – and is just getting started, according to co-organiser Michael Wiesenfeld.
Wiesenfeld, a French-born, Miami-based estate agent and friend of Guetta, was instrumental in setting up the first United at Home event in April 2020, which saw the DJ play a 100-minute set on the roof of an apartment block in Miami in aid of the World Health Organization (WHO), Feeding South Florida, Feeding America and France’s Fondation des Hôpitaux.
The show was seen by more than 12 million people – many of which also joined in on a Zoom link, while 7,000 residents of neighbouring blocks in the Icon Brickell complex watched from their balconies – and raised $700,000, with donations matched by Guetta himself, Wiesenfeld explains.
“For that first show, David paid for 100% of the production, as well as matching people’s donations, so 100% of that money went directly to charity,” he recalls.
Thinking back to the genesis of the show, Wiesenfeld tells IQ: “David wanted to do something to give back, but he didn’t really know what. I was the same – it was such a stressful time, and I couldn’t sleep thinking of all these people who were worse off than me. We could see people were struggling. There was no help at the time, as this was before any stimulus package.
“I used to live in the apartment block where we did the first show and I realised it would be perfect. I was looking for something that would be visually very nice [to watch from home] and also offer the possibility for David to interact with a live crowd. A friend and client of mine in the real-estate business, Jean-Charles Carre, is part of David’s management team, so I called them up and said, ‘Why don’t we do it here?’”
The United at Home team, which also included Jérémy Zeitoun, Guetta’s head of social media and digital marketing, and Pierre-Georges Kieffer from Warner Music France, pulled the Miami show together in under a week, working “18 hours a day for five days” to make it happen, Wiesenfeld continues.
In addition to providing some much-needed entertainment, the funds raised by United at Home Miami and follow-up event United at Home New York, on 30 May, enabled Feeding America to distribute over four million meals to people in need.
“We thought about selling tickets to raise more money, but it would limit the number of people who can see it”
“Everybody has same story about it giving a bit of happiness at time of such darkness,” Wiesenfeld says. “I dug out the clips recently and, even a year later, I had chills. It was like watching France win the world cup!”
“That night, I couldn’t sleep,” Wiesenfeld remembers. “David, the team and I were on the phone until 6.30 in the morning, we were so full of adrenaline. We all agreed that we had to do another one.”
The show that followed, which saw Guetta performing from the roof of New York’s Rockefeller Center, almost didn’t happen, with big-city bureaucracy, the worsening Covid-19 situation and the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd threatening to derail the concert before it got off the ground.
“The day of the event, there were 4,000 people on the streets of New York by our hotel,” Wiesenfeld explains. “We didn’t think we were going to make it to the Rockefeller Center in time. In the end, David arrived seven minutes before the show!”
Despite the chaotic circumstances, United at Home New York was another critical and financial success, securing the backing of a number of high-profile sponsors who were impressed by what the team had pulled off in Miami.
“In Miami, David paid for entire show, but in New York we had Major League Soccer, Heineken, Atari, all kinds of companies… In total, we had maybe 15 sponsors because they saw what we did in Miami and they were blown away,” says Wiesenfeld.
Similarly successful were United at Home Paris, held at the Louvre on New Year’s Eve 2020, and United at Home Dubai, which saw Guetta return to the rooftop (this time of the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel) on 6 February. Both shows were engineered by Guetta’s long time tour manager, Jean-Guillaume Charvet, and visual artist Romain Pissenem of High Scream Production, and brought United at Home’s now-trademark mix of high-energy electronic music, spectacular visual effects and breathtaking locations to fans in new continents.
Bucking the trend towards ticketed live streams, Wiesenfeld says all future United at Home events will remain free to view to ensure they reach as many people as possible.
“The key with charity is that it’s all about the experience and the connection with people”
“We thought about it [selling tickets], to raise more money, but it would limit the number of people who can see it,” he explains. “David’s logic is that he’s been very successful, he’s received a lot from his fans, and now his duty is to give back. The charity angle is very important to him.”
At press time, the four shows had been collectively viewed by well over 100m people – and where in the beginning the team had to approach cities to host United at Home, now the cities are coming to them. “The shows have shown that these United at Home events are a great way of advertising their cities,” says Wiesenfeld, who with Carre now leads a specialist event consultancy, The Charity Guys. “After all, it’s a lot cheaper than hosting the Euros…”
The plan for 2021–22 is for another three or four over the next 12 months, he says. “Now United at Home has become a concept – we travel to a beautiful part of the world and play great music for charity – it’s going to continue.”
Post-coronavirus, Wiesenfeld adds, team Guetta – which also includes agent Maria May of CAA – are also hoping to do a “real show in a big stadium: a festival curated by David but featuring other artists. A Live Aid type of thing, once a year.”
On the live stream front, it’s likely the next United at Home show will be in Asia, but The Charity Guys is also looking at South America, the Middle East and other cities in Europe, according to Wiesenfeld. “What we’re trying to do is find new ways to raise money for those who need it,” he adds.
The Charity Guys is also hoping to work with other artists to replicate the success of the United at Home model, using it as their proof of concept.
“United at Home was the product of out-of-the-box thinking – it was livestreaming but in a completely different way. Now we want to do that with other artists and entertainers, leveraging their fame and brand to raise money.
“There are a lot of celebrities who have foundations but they don’t raise much money, and I think that’s because they don’t have the right team around them. The key with charity is that it’s all about the experience and the connection with people, and that’s why United at Home has been so successful.”