There is a long tradition of using music to give back to the community. On the largest scale there is the benefit concert, a template created by George Harrison’s Concert For Bangladesh in 1971.

Featuring a who’s who of performers (mostly Harrison’s friends), ticket sales and fundraising were to be given to help the Bangladeshi refugees; a live record was released to raise awareness throughout the world of their plight, as well as additional money from sales. And despite a snafu with Tax Exempt status, Harrison and co. raised nearly $45 million dollars directly, and untold amounts of publicity for the faltering region.

That tradition has carried on through massive events like Live Aid, yearly events like Farm Aid, and events in response to tragedies like The Concert For New York City. Each kind uses ticket sales as a means to raise money and album sales to raise awareness.

The Global Citizen Festival is different—its tickets are free, and its goal is to raise awareness long before the concert.

Instead of banking on ticket sales in the aftermath of a recession, the GCF has come up with an ingenious solution to increase the maximal benefit from the public. You win tickets in a drawing, and to enter that drawing you must have at least 8 action points, which are earned by contributing to the Global Citizen cause.

According to the GCF, there are two types of actions: “1) social sharing, education and movement building; [and] 2) advocacy campaigning.” They are incentivizing grass roots campaigning and activism with a free concert. And by saving concertgoers the cost of the ticket, they are able to put their resources into actions. This translates into meaningful awareness before the bands even go to sound check.

(It is worth noting here that there will be some VIP tickets on sale, between $100 and $675 a ticket before ticket fees).

What makes this scheme more effective than the traditional means of fundraising is that the GCFs main goal is to end extreme poverty by 2030. This goal is by no means unrealistic—as Rock Star/Philanthropist Bono tells us here; it’s going to take a lot more big fish to help. In addition, their focus this year will be to end poverty by getting vaccines, sanitation, and education into places where they can’t afford them.

Looking at these goals and the actions you can take to earn action points, it’s obvious that using a fan base to prod global governments and corporations—the big fish—into enacting laws and donating large sums of money has a better chance of a lasting impact than straining the already limited resources of the general public.

Fortunately, this year’s concert on Central Park’s Great Lawn has some pretty impressive artists to motivate the masses into performing these actions; the line-up includes Jay-Z, No Doubt, Carrie Underwood, Fun., The Roots, and Tiësto. A perfect line-up for a benefit concert if ever there was one. Each group attracts a different kind of fan without alienating the audience of any other artist.

I can see a rock-pop fan of Fun. who loves listening to the country-pop stylings of Carrie Underwood. A Tiësto fan loving No Doubt (especially during their Rock Steady period). Everyone loves, or doesn’t know they love, the Roots.

Jay-Z is obviously the headliner here (although they have not released set times or even the order of the artists, I have an inkling they might follow the order above). He is probably the most well known as Beyoncé’s husband, and also as the greatest living rapper.

He is also no stranger to philanthropy. Along with his Shawn Carter Foundation, he has donated millions to the likes of the Red Cross, the Boys & Girls Club, and Music For Relief, started by Collision Course collaborators Linkin Park. It is so important that stars of Jay-Z’s caliber participate because charities attached to celebrities are almost always guaranteed to bring in more eyes.

And that’s all GCF needs. It’s not your old-fashioned charity concert; the music doesn’t come with a donation. The music is your reward for being part of the bigger picture, for helping out other people in other countries, people you may never meet. It’s about being a Global Citizen.

To learn more about the Global Citizen Festival, and for more information on how to get started, head over to their page.

Article by: Christopher Gilson

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