The Industry Gives Back

The devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina on the U.S. Gulf Coast has been called “America’s tsunami,” and the entertainment industry is responding in kind, as word of numerous efforts to aid the victims of the catastrophe come pouring across fax machines and news wires.

“A Concert for Hurricane Relief” was quickly scheduled to air on NBC and cable networks MSNBC and CNBC the evening of September 2nd. The hourlong special, hosted by Matt Lauer in New York City, was to include performances by Louisiana natives Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr. and Tim McGraw.

“I am heartbroken by the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in my home state,” McGraw said in a statement. “It’s at times like these that each of us must work together to provide lifesaving aid to those in terrible need.”

MTV Networks announced another aid effort, set for September 10th on MTV, VH1, CMT and other affiliated channels. Performers at press time included Green Day, Ludacris, Gretchen Wilson, Usher, Alicia Keys, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews Band, Rob Thomas, David Banner, and Linkin Park‘s Chester Bennington.

Dave Matthews Band was first out of the gate to announce a live benefit concert, adding a date September 12th to its previously scheduled and reportedly sold-out three-night stand at Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver.

Mayor John Hickenlooper and promoter Chuck Morris held a press conference September 1st at Denver’s The Fillmore Auditorium to announce details of the gig.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the communities that have been affected by Katrina,” DMB said in a statement quoted by ABC7 in Denver. “The devastation and human loss is heartbreaking. We thank Mayor Hickenlooper and Chuck Morris for their efforts in making this benefit concert a reality in such a short period of time.”

Tickets were to go on sale September 10th at all Ticketmaster centers. A limited number of VIP tickets will be available and remaining seats were priced at $58.50. Ticketmaster and the band’s own direct ticketing company, Musictoday, will be donating its applicable service charges per ticket.

DMB, Chuck Morris Presents and all supporting companies agreed to donate 100 percent of the profits from the show, Morris told the TV station.

Clear Channel radio and television stations nationwide began airing public service announcements directing listeners to, the online site the company operates and used for its fund-raising efforts after last year’s South Asian tsunami.

StormAid is also providing National Hurricane Center advisories for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and a list of Clear Channel stations airing shelter locations and directions, providing coverage, collecting donations for the American Red Cross and holding collection drives.

In addition, Clear Channel Entertainment is in the process of organizing benefit concerts and collection drives, which are expected to be announced shortly.

The St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., is serving as a donation collection center in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey and Storm arena football teams. In addition to collecting needed goods for victims, players from the two teams signed autographs for those donating to the cause.

Donations will also be accepted during September shows by the Scream Tour, Reggaeton Exploitation, and Ice Fest at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Walt Disney Co. is throwing in $2.5 million and Celine Dion is donating $1 million to the Red Cross. Actors like Morgan Freeman are organizing auctions, jam-band mag Relix is donating a portion of new subscriptions and artists at CDBaby are even kicking in proceeds.

Nick Light, VP of artist development at Warner Bros. Records, told Pollstar he hopes to expand on his own personal tsunami fund-raising efforts from last year to reach beyond the WBR offices in Burbank, Calif.

Light, who has been collecting cash and clothing and personally delivering it every Friday to a nearby Red Cross branch, is offering to do the same for anyone who wants to send cash donations to him at the WBR offices.

“In the next few weeks, I’m sure everyone in the entertainment business is going to be rolling something out. But sometimes I just think when somebody’s walking by the office, they’ve just been to Starbucks and they’ve got five bucks in their hand, they can chuck it in the jar and it will go right to the Red Cross,” Light told Pollstar.

Those interested in contributing to Light’s effort can earmark checks or other donations to Red Cross Katrina Relief, c/o Nick Light, Warner Bros. Records, 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505.

— Deborah Speer