121212 Concert at Madison Square Garden: Ticket Controversy Plagues the Sandy Benefit

There is hope among many people around the world that 12-12-12 will be an auspicious day. The once-a-century date series, which will grace us again in 89 years on 01-01-01, is an omen of good luck for many, and a quirky conversation topic for many more. It is with that catchy and lucky date in mind that "12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief," a star-studded evening at Madison Square Garden to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy, came to be. Although the concert was planned with the best intentions — proceeds are going to the Robin Hood Relief Fund — there is, nevertheless, a layer of controversy surrounding the night. Most notably, the question of whether or not an expensive, sold-out bash is the right way to honor and help victims of a natural disaster. 

Hurricane Sandy was a destructive force of nature that claimed the lives of many, and wreaked havoc on the lives of millions more. Framed as a benefit concert, there is the hope and expectation that a spirit of benevolence will surround the event, sheltering it from the scalpers, and sky-high prices that dominate most arena-sized concerts today. Unfortunately, scalpers and block sellers are continuing to benefit from this concert, an event that was intended to benefit the people whose lives were torn apart by the storm.

Some, like New York Senator Chuck Schumer, have asked that sites like StubHub do what they can to help stop block sellers from turning personal profit on benefit concerts. StubHub president, Chris Tsakalakis has defended StubHub's permission of reselling benefit concert tickets reiterating, "All the money that StubHub is going to make in terms of our fees and commissions will go to the Robin Hood Relief Fund, who is the beneficiary of the concert." He continued, "It is perfectly legal to resell tickets in the state of New York and in most states ... we knew ... people were going to resell these tickets whether or not StubHub was going to allow the resale."

The steps taken by StubHub are positive, but there is unfortunately no way to make sure that all the money winds up in the right hands. Certainly the Robin Hood Relief Fund will make a nice sum of money from the event, and will help the victims of Hurricane Sandy on their continued road to recovery. But the unfortunate truth is that many other people will be personally profiting from the sale of these tickets as well. This then begs the question, is this the right way to help victims of a disaster? Is a high-profile event as beneficial as good-old-fashioned get-your-hands dirty volunteerism? It's a question to consider, and a weighty one at that. 

Performers at the event include Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Bruce Sprinsteen, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, and Eric Clapton ... among others. Undoubtedly the music will be moving, and the performances heavy YouTube fodder in the coming days. And hopefully, the spirit of why they are performing will remain. Hopefully, the audience, the ticket sellers, the 2 billion people the concert will theoretically be broadcast to, will recognize it as the benefit that it is, and not the personal moneymaker that some want it to be. Fingers crossed that the auspicious 12-12-12 date will inspire a spirit of generosity, and a spirit of giving.

The concert airs Wednesday night at 7:30 ET, click here for a full list of places to watch. Click here for information on how to give money to the Robin Hood Relief Fund. 

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Elena Sheppard

Elena is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Mic. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Time Out New York, The New York Times Upfront, ABC News, and various travel publications. She is also a Princeton alum, a former Thailand resident, and a Brooklyn native.

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