For the last couple of days lots of local Azerbaijani press sources were spitting out one after another, articles about the hoax, that the “MTV concert” in Baku turned out to be. Reportedly, people paid for the tickets, and the show was postponed, and even the man organizing all this, Matthew Goldstein doesn’t work for MTV at all. Below is an exclusive interview with Goldstein, where he speaks openly about the problems he encountered in Baku, the concert itself, the opening of MTV channel ,and other things. This is the interview I took yesterday.
Mr. Goldstein let me just start off with the rumors that have been floating around, some people were in some doubts that MTV actually has a Eurasia Regional Director by the name of Matt Goldstein. There is no information about you on the internet, besides the links to various Azeri sources. Please, tell us how did all this idea with coming to Azerbaijan started (in details), and why there are so many doubts about this event, and you in particular?
As I have said many times before, I am president of a company called IDEA inc, (International Design and Entertainment Association). This company represents large media brands in Eurasia, including, of which I am the regional and official representative in several countries. All press and major companies in Azerbaijan have receive documentation and more (letters from MTV and such) confirming this. The main cause for peoples’ doubts, as I have come to understand it, are the fact that I do not write e-mails from an MTV address and am not yet mentioned on their site. This is due to the fact that MTV works with third-party agencies around the world, as is common practice in Western business, and, although I represent MTV exclusively in Azerbaijan, I do not work exclusively for MTV in Eurasia.
People here seem to sometimes have major difficulty understanding this, and are very quick to gossip or feel as though they being lied to. At times it almost feels as though they relish in it. I have never been in a country where more than 30,000 articles, trans-media, have been written about me, much less in less than four months. As far as the MTV site goes, it is my understanding that they will be adding me in time. I have only worked as a representative for the company for 7 months or so and they do not even list their chief executives on the site.
Friends have told me that several foreign companies attempted to enter the Azeri market immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, as did MTV in 1995, and many or most of them (not including MTV, which is actually stilled owed money by one company in Azerbaijan), which did not follow through with many of their promises in Azerbaijan and essentially conned the Azeri people. I think people are scared that foreign companies in general are dangerous to work with here, because they carry less accountability, and a major brand like MTV simply gets a lot of attention because, although people want it so bad, they also do not wish to be ‘duped’.
Why was the event postponed, to tomorrow? What is the main reason for this?
It is sometimes painful for me to answer questions like this, because I want so bad to love and admire and work with Azerbaijan. However, I feel that sometimes Azeris are intimidated by me a bit and hence make false promises as such, when I ask them to be straight forward. In the process of planning this event, I was approached by a catering company, and its owner who took me on a wonderful trip around the country and offered to do elaborate and exquisite catering for the event. Then, the day after our first organzational meeting, he disappeared. Another major magazine offered to execute and provide sponsorship for a luxury fashion show, and the, a week and a half prior to the event, also disappeared, saying she was unable to handle such an event. Most importantly, however, representative from a company called Cradle, who signed a contract with us to build our stage, sound, and lighting system, two days before the event, suddenly demanded, out of nowhere, an enormous some of money which, a demand which violated the contract. As I could not make the celebrities sing a capella and DJ without equipment in the dark without a stage, I had to essentially cancel the event, and allow the international celebrities whom we brought to the country to participate in an event at the Amburan Beach club, which is not nearly as VIP as Sea Breeze, but at least had the equipment tomorrow. I think I have been way to kind in my business dealings and slightly naive about the Azeri people, who, although they have all the ability and potential in the work, can be very odd when it comes to business.
You said, the party will eventually take place tomorrow in Amburan, and said that “all the stars will be there”. Did you mean the overseas stars, or the local ones? Usually, the stars and celebs have to arrive earlier to get prepared for the show…
Both. The international stars have arrived, for the most part, and are ready to go. DJs, especially, do not really need rehearsals.
How are the negotiations going on with the opening of the MTV channel here in Baku?
As far as negotiations regarding the shows go – so far, so good. We are hoping to close deals here soon and I expect more visits from MTV’s London office this month, hopefully to close these deals for good.
Aside from the show, which is really a teaser, in my opinion, and the channel opening being the “main dish. Some claim that there were no talks about the MTV channel opening. How can you comment on that?
I have said this many times, but I will say it again. MTV is always interested in opening new, profitable channels with solid partners. Azerbaijan is an incredibly musical country, and has the money and management needed to properly run MTV here. On the border of Europe and Asia, and in between Central Asian and Transcaucasia, I think the country is well-suited to have its own channel. I think that MTV agrees with me on this as well, but it is really a question of whether Azeri business people can work properly with the MTV team. The festival should hopefully be a good feeler for this. There will be discussions between high level MTV execs and a major local television channel.
Since the concert WILL take place tomorrow in Amburan, I would like to ask you to tell us in details what and who will be participating there?
Dan Balan with Miss Salvadore and other dancing girls, Ian Carey, Wonderland Avenue, several local performers, teo minor Hollywood stars, who are friends of mine and have come to visit, and several other top local DJs, plus the models and such.