Organisers Swallow Water For Life Losses

The organisers of the sparsely attended Water For Life charity concert at Copenhagen Parken Dec. 7 will have to swallow the loss themselves because the United Nations apparently hasn’t put any money into it.

Although the UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP) backed the concert, which is estimated to have dropped anywhere between $1 million and $2 million, UNEP press spokesman Nick Nuttall told Danish daily Politiken his organisation didn’t provide any financial assistance.

“We were contacted by the organisers many months ago. Our people in UNEP talked with them about their ambitions, and it seemed like a good idea. But we did not put a penny in the project,” Nuttall explained.

The concert, timed for the first day of the Copenhagen climate change talks, was an expensive disaster. About 1,500 fans turned up to Copenhagen Parken Stadium, about 10 percent of what was expected.

The lineup included Europe, Shaggy, Finnish rockers Rasmus, Youssou N’Dour and Indonesian singer-songwriter Anggun, plus a host of top local acts. Akon pulled out the day before the show.

The organiser left to pick up the huge loss is Water for Life, a private organization run by Greg Smith and Armanda Ru Orlanda, who have spent more than two months working on the event.

Smith told the paper the show was never done on commercial grounds.

“It is not a live-aid show,” he said, explaining that the cost of the concert will be covered by the Water for Life company, which he owns. “Expensive, yes. But we would have the best music, the best TV production, and of course it would have been nice with 40,000 spectators, but it is not a concert for Danish citizens, it is a concert for the whole world,” he said, referring to himself as “the Bob Geldof who nobody has heard of.”

He told Pollstar he was disappointed by Danish media coverage of the event because he feels reporters missed the point.

He says it was to build a platform to film the video that will attract interest in the Water For Life concert series. He said he has local backing for shows being scheduled for 2010 in Stockholm, Rome and Mexico City, the latter to coincide with next year’s climate change summit.

Television footage from the Parken show is already being edited and the concert will be aired worldwide. Any profits from television production will go to non-governmental organisations that support Water for Life’s aims.

Smith wasn’t prepared to disclose exactly how much the Copenhagen show lost but insisted it was nowhere near the amounts being quoted locally.

Politiken earlier reported that tickets were originally priced at $75, but poor sales meant they were soon reduced and many were eventually given away on the day of the show.

Local live entertainment experts say the event was poorly put together and advertised.

“Nice thought, poor execution,” said Niels Boe Sørensen of entertainment marketing specialists Kuanhsi Consulting, which advises Danish brewing giant Tuborg on its global entertainment investments.

His other clients include Live Nation Denmark, Coca-Cola Nordic and The Danish Royal Theatre. He was formerly head of entertainment marketing at Carlsberg International.

Sørensen said he was in earlier talks with the city of Copenhagen to organise a global event around the GOP 15 meeting and it was only just before the climate change talks that he heard it was going ahead, although he says the organisers appear to have made no effort to listen to or seek advice from the local companies best equipped to help.

Flemming Schmidt from the local Live Nation office says his potential involvement lasted no longer than his first phone call with the organisers.

Julie’s Bicycle chairman Tony Wadsworth attended the summit to inform politicians that the UK music industry backs a deal to reduce the world’s carbon footprint.

His organisation went with its research partner, the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, to present an open letter endorsed by more than 100 music biz signatories.