Dionne Warwick, Valerie Simpson, John Legend, John Mayer, Josh Groban, Rick Astely, Boy George, Babyface, Billie Eilish, Jeffery Osborne, Carly Simon, Seal, George Benson, Susanna Hoffs, Shawn Colvin, Jewel, Cyndi Lauper. What reads like the list of some kind of all-time hall of fame is actually just a fraction of artists, who have appeared on Quarantunes over the past 15 weeks.
Quarantunes, the brainchild of WME partner Richard Weitz and his daughter Demi, has grown from a Zoom birthday party in honor of Demi’s 17th birthday into an invite-only charity event that brings together some of the biggest names in show business, some executives, alongside friends and partners of the Weitz family, to raise money for almost exclusively COVID-related charities.
When Pollstar spoke with Weitz, Quarantunes had raised more than $6.7 million through private donations made during Zoom sessions, in which 1,000 people max enjoy exclusive insights into the lives and music of artists that are, during normal times, playing for tens of thousands in arenas and stadiums across the world. Weitz, who’s been heavily involved in charity work for many years, isn’t even a music agent. And though his legacy suggests otherwise, Weitz doesn’t consider himself a TV agent, either. “I’m an entertainment agent. My specialty in music is my knowledge and my passion for it. I don’t know how to route a show, nor do I care to route a show. My routing is sending you a Google link and saying, are you in London, are you in Germany, how are you, what time is it? That’s the new route for me,” he explained.
Charities that have benefitted from donations made during Quarantunes sessions, which can last between two and five hours, include LA’s Saban Community Clinic, LA-based organizations like the LA Food Bank, Cedars Sinai Hospital in addition to 11 public hospitals in New York City, Broadway Cares and the Equal Justice Initiative, and others. Just to put the $6.7 million figure into perspective: a MusiCares special that aired a few weeks ago on YouTube, which was excellently produced and edited, raised five figures. Weitz gets that in one pledge. “In the beginning, my daughter Demi decided to make this for charity. That was  weeks ago. That day we raised $38,000, and a friend said the next day, if you raise $50,000, I’ll double it, so we did and got to $100,000,” Weitz recalled. From there it just spiraled. When donations surpassed the $5 million mark during a special Father’s Day edition of Quarantunes, Weitz broke out in tears.
Three people are the reason this show distinguishes itself from any other livestreaming event out there: two are its inventors, Richard and Demi Weitz. “It’s the personal touch. It’s a conversation, it’s not just watching concerts on TV. We had a conversation with Clive Davis, talking about stories, artists he has signed, Barry Gibb, Barry Manilow, Carly Simon, Air Supply. We’ve talked to Babyface, about working with L.A. Reid and Whitney Houston. Producers like David Foster or Jimmy Jam, that’s what makes it different. You are really watching inside storytellers with the greatest living producers and executives ever. That’s what makes it different. And it’s private, so people feel a little more free with their language, with what they’re saying,” said Weitz.
The third pivotal figure is the above-mentioned Clive Davis, whose vast knowledge about this business – and long list of superstar contacts – has helped make the Quarantunes guest list the hottest on the internet. Weitz describes the music mogul as “the mentor for Quarantunes and what we have done over these last 12 years, with his Netflix documentary, ‘The Soundtrack of my Life,’ and his book – that’s been a just incredible experience.
Also being part of helping him with the Aretha Franklin special on CBS and helping him with the Whitney Houston biopic that he’s doing.
“To work with Clive, and not have to work at a record label, and to be able to get this knowledge, has been absolutely invaluable.”
Weitz continues, “I’m basically doing LiveAid and Coachella every week. I’m booking eight to 12 acts every single weekend, and we’re always finding different ones. Everybody wants to pitch in, you just got to figure out who they are. I’ve had Carlos Santana twice, Bryan Adams twice.”
But Quarantunes isn’t just about legacy artists, “we were able to launch some real careers for people, who didn’t have the profile and have gotten seen by so many people,” Weitz explains.
“One of them is Jac Ross. His song, ‘It’s OK to be black,’ is going to be the promo for the NBA playoffs and finals on ABC and ESPN, and I believe my Zoom was absolutely helpful for that. Lauren Daigle shined through this, she’s going to collaborate with a couple of artists. The War and Treaty are incredible, people love them. Lola Young is incredible. We’ve had a lot of new artists that people have really loved.’
While Quarantunens hasn’t made Weitz consider becoming a music booking agent, he does have plans for a ticketed event going forward, saying, “[Seeing that] we have so many great relationships with friends, managers, agencies and the artists directly, [one idea is] go to London, New York, Nashville and LA over the course of the year, and do a sit-down, talk about what you can do during quarantine, and have them play a couple of songs acoustically. Basically, creating a live ticketed event, that’ll be touring in the cities, and raise money for charities.”
If this all seems rare, that’s because it is.
“This doesn’t exist in the world,” Weitz confirms. “That’s why people are coming to us now. I have so many organizations, from the biggest of the big, wanting to get involved.”.