By Colby Lucas
BU News Service
If you were to ask Ethan Weinberg why his benefit concert was so successful, he would tell you that it was all thanks to networking connections, and motivation.
Boston University juniors and members of Kappa Sigma Fraternity’s Mu-Psi Chapter, Ethan Weinberg and Toby Ryan, packed college students into Royale nightclub Thursday, Sept. 26 for “Open Haüs- Volume 1,” the first of an annual concert series, this time benefiting Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston.
More than 1,100 people showed up for Thursday’s concert, which featured Dutch DJ, Sam Feldt and Australian DJ, What So Not. Ticket sales from the concert raised a whopping $20,000 for the non-profit.
Weinberg said he wanted to help create his own non-profit concert in Boston after travelling to Worcester to see Louis the Child perform in November.
“I wondered why everybody was in Worcester and why Louis the Child couldn’t book a show in Boston proper,” Weinberg said.
Weinberg admitted to smooth talking his way backstage where he pitched the idea for a fundraiser concert for Greek Life in Boston to Louis the Child.
Things fell through with Louis the Child, but nonetheless, Weinberg took his business pitch elsewhere. He wanted the 140,000 college students in Boston to experience what he experienced.
“I made cold calls, emails, whatever I could do to get my foot in the door. If people see the glint in your eye, someone that has ambition, passion, they will help you out. It is a very favor-oriented business,” Weinberg said. “I think because I was able to leverage the non-profit nature of the event, the fact that it’s for Habitat for Humanity. I was targeting [artists] that had a past of philanthropy experience.”
Weinberg built homes for Habitat for Humanity in Los Angeles, and said he was moved by seeing a group of people with little to no experience coming together to build affordable housing. He recognized that the Boston branch needed funding, and was certain that most individuals are familiar with the charity and it’s work.
Weinberg started reaching out in July, and Habitat for Humanity quickly joined and gave the two boys a cause to rally behind, Weinberg said. The name “Open Haüs- Volume 1” seemed perfect for the occasion.
“I thought house music, building homes, whatever, and then I was like open haus. Okay, it’s an open event, open party, open philanthropy event,” Weinberg said. “Form equals function, especially with the name.”
The next task on Weinberg’s to-do list was getting his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, to associate with the event. The national fraternity thought the idea was great but their budget had already been allocated to other charities that they work with annually.
Weinberg needed funding to book the two DJs. He reached out to contacts that had witnessed his determination to organize the concert. He asked to borrow money, promising they would get it back, even if it ended up being his own money.
“There was a lot of risk associated with it, of course. You need money to actually make money,” he said. “Rallying money on the fundraising part was necessary for 50% of the booking deposit for Sam Feldt up front so we can actually get this act or they aren’t going to take you seriously.”
Weinberg got the money, and then booked Sam Feldt, and eventually What So Not.
Weinberg then turned his focus to promotion and marketing. Both Alpha Phi at Boston University and Kappa Sigma at Northeastern University partnered with Kappa Sigma at BU in late August to promote the concert. The partnership boosted ticket sales and spread word of the concert three times faster, Weinberg said.
“I was on the fence about going and about the price of the tickets,” Sophie Woan, a sophomore at Boston University said Thursday night. “The fact that the money was going to charity made it a lot more worth it for me.”
The payoff did not come easy, but according to Ryan, it was rewarding.
“We’d all seen how electric the turnout was” Ryan said. “We checked the Eventbrite app to see exactly how much money had been raised for Habitat, and we both just cracked a huge mutual smile and hugged for like a full minute.”
After a successful event, they are now in the process of trademarking “Open Haüs.” The two college boys plan to work with Boston University for “Open Haüs- Volume 2.” They want to get a more popular DJ and a bigger venue in the hopes that they can greatly increase the number of concert-goers.
“Bigger impact for a good cause,” Weinberg said. “Money affords you freedom, but it is the best thing in the world to raise money for people who really need help.”