An Ocean County man who failed to deliver on his promise to bring seven concerts to the Jersey Shore this summer and one more in the fall blamed poor communication with city officials and a lack of financing by one of his partners.
Michael Selvanto was chosen to organize and promote five concerts at Bader Field, one on the Atlantic City beach and one on the Wildwood beach this summer. He was also scheduled to put on a Veterans Day concert at Boardwalk Hall this Saturday, but that was canceled Tuesday.
Selvanto said the latest cancellation was due to poor ticket sales.
Atlantic City and Wildwood officials blamed the missed summer concerts on Selvanto, who they said promised big results but failed to deliver.
“He came in and said that he could book a bunch of big-time acts, but he never showed any proof that he could actually do that,” Atlantic City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz said.
Selvanto was never paid by either city.
Selvanto said in both Wildwood and Atlantic City, legitimate obstacles prevented the shows.
In Wildwood, Selvanto said, the city led him to believe he had the needed approvals to sell alcohol for the beach concert only to learn from the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control he didn’t have the right permits.
After the sale of alcohol fell through, the concert’s sponsor, Redi Vodka, pulled out, Selvanto said.
Wildwood Commissioner Pete Byron said the promoter, in this case Selvanto, and not the city, is responsible for getting the necessary permits.
“If he was unsuccessful in getting a permit, then that is on the promoter,” he said. “The city is not responsible for getting a license to sell liquor on the beach.”
Byron also said the city granted him a special-event permit, but that does not cover selling alcohol.
“The city did everything they could to accommodate them,” he said.
In the case of Atlantic City, Selvanto said he believed another promoter who said he could bring in Alicia Keys and other big acts. But that promoter didn’t have any money, Selvanto said.
“Atlantic City was my fault because I did not verify any financials,” he said. “But we had a full, honest effort to put on the concert in Wildwood.”
The Veterans Day concert was supposed to feature the band War, John Payne and former Journey lead vocalist Steve Augeri.
That concert was canceled Tuesday because only 267 tickets were sold, Selvanto said.
Putting on a concert, especially a beach show, is a logistical challenge, says Alan Nau, owner of Alan Nau Consulting Inc., who has been in the business for 25 years.
The relationship between promoter and artist can change for each show, but the promoter’s credibility is often a factor, said Nau, whose consulting firm has worked with LiveNation on concert staging.
If the promoter is unknown, they will probably have to pay all of the money to the band up front, he said. If they are credible, sometimes there is a payment plan.
Both Atlantic City and Wildwood officials could have learned more about Selvanto’s performance with a little more research.
A quick Google search revealed several legal documents from Pennsylvania’s Attorney General’s Office showing that in 2012, Selvanto was ordered to pay restitution in Pennsylvania after allegedly violating the Charitable Purposes Act. Authorities said Selvanto was using the names and logos of the charities Live8 and ONE Campaign to collect money at multiple car shows without being registered. ONE Campaign said they never received any donations collected by Selvanto, according to court documents.
“(Selvanto) misled countless Pennsylvania citizens to donate to charitable causes, such as ONE Campaign and Live8, when he in fact was not authorized by those charities to use their names or logos,” the court documents read.
Also, Selvanto was sentenced to five years in prison in 1999 and ordered to pay $3,000 restitution to multiple victims whom he defrauded in purchasing scams and a false debt service, according to New Jersey court records.
Selvanto acknowledged the charges but said they are in the past and do not represent his conduct now. He also said none of those incidents were factors in the recent cancellations.
For their part, both Shabazz and Byron said their cities needed to do better jobs vetting promoters.
They’ll soon get that chance, as both cities appear intent on staging more beach concerts in the future.