Live Earth or lined pockets?

After Live 8, comes Live Earth, yet another massive attempt at promoting a cause. We wonder if mega concerts really work or shall we just let the music play?


13 July, 2007:

Oh no! Not again! Another great one bit the dust. I watched in horror as I witnessed the merciless butchery of a legend. I felt helpless as I saw my rebellion anthem raped at the hands of Eric Prydz. Another Brick in the Wall was officially going down. It was now Proper Education. Oh really!, I thought, flinching as the remix repeatedly battered my TV screen. All in the name of protecting the Earth.

The cause is noble, but the means could be nobler. As Live Earth concerts kicked off in Sydney and Tokyo On July 7, 2007, I realize maybe I should refrain from commenting on someone’s privilege to rehash a rock classic as dance floor shenanigans. The message is important here – protect the planet’s environment. But shall we not protect our beloved rock anthems from the mercenary hands of DJs? Or anything goes in the name of artistic freedom?

Live Earth concerts have been in the news for quite sometime now. For the first time, we have a series of 24-hour concerts, which will be hosted in seven continents, including the grand finale by scientists in Antarctica. The entire event will be broadcast on television, radio, Internet, and wireless channels. The event is the brainchild of Kevin Wall, the mind behind the Live 8 concert against poverty. Wall partnered with Al Gore to form the Alliance for Climate Protection.

Who’s Playing

All the biggies in music. Madonna, Sting, Linkin Park, John Mayer, Genesis, Smashing Pumpkins, Ludacris, Black Eyed Peas, Roger Waters, Metallica, among others from all genres of music. Check out the complete venue-wise schedule of artists here

What’s the Big Deal

If it isn’t HIV or poverty, it’s environment. Like all concerts, the Live Earth concerts also have a greater good to support. This time, the maharajas and maharanis of music have banded together to protect our fragile environment. Clever and repeated advertising has already created a buzz, with a little help from friends of music like Eric Prydz, who prides in pillaging Pink Floyd.

Considering the fact that Al Gore is backing the concert, one is tempted to relook at the intent behind the concert. Could environment be the real beneficiary here? Of course, as they say, a little difference makes a huge impact. So, if a concert seen by millions, attended by millions, heard by trillions, changes one person’s perception – there has been a change at least. But yes, someone’s coffers will be bursting at seams too. That’s a huge impact.

The strategy is all in place. The concerts are accessible through different channels, and performances are interspersed with messages about saving our Earth. Marketing a cause has never been better, and makes sane business sense to do so too. Less tax hassles, and loads of feel-good cheer spreads across the planet. What remains to be seen is this will actually delay our doomsday soothsayers’ predictions. If we live long enough to witness one.

Who Gets the Message?

People around the world. They are supposed to follow precedents set by our celebrities. Music, of course, is the universal herald. But does the mass bombardment really help? True, repeated messages might make them memorable, but for how long? Are causes in danger of becoming fads as each year we have a new concert drive, with a new cause to support? And the language of communication is English, of course. So how does the non-English speaking world benefit? Perhaps by beginning to learn English, understand the music, and then interpreting the communication. Or perhaps it does not matter, if we assume it is the English-speaking part of the world that is more responsible for environmental degradation.

Causes are Cool

Remo Fernandes, India’s original pop artiste, denounced the Taj Mahal voting campaign as a sham. Remo claims that SMS voting could be a ploy by mobile companies to increase their revenues.

Could there be some truth in this observation on the music industry’s sudden interest in taking up a cause as well? No doubt about the good intentions, but if it weren’t lucrative, would the music moguls really give a rabbit’s rear for it? Music for a cause today seems to be the new market mantra. You have a plethora of music videos with different artists singing one line each for a cause. They singers are all invariably dressed in white, and usually set against a white background. The songs arouse a peaceful, easy feeling in you, so that you are moved to part with your dollars and cents. All for a good cause. Can one suggest then, if there is music for a cause, why isn’t there music to demonstrate its impact? Can we have a look at what happened post concerts or video releases? As a donor, I would love to see how my money actually helped someone out there. I am not the one to teach a man to fish and then forget him forever. I’d like to see how many fish he caught, and if he has gotten better at it.

But till that happens, I suppose I will make do with recycled and regurgitated Proper Education. I know I have to save the Earth. I will do my bit. I will switch off the television right now.




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