Once Amazon announced its inaugural festival “Intersect,” slated for December in Las Vegas, hundreds of artists quickly signed a letter stating they were boycotting the event simply because Amazon licenses software to the Department of Homeland Security.
In the open letter titled “No Music For ICE,” these artists claim they will “not participate in Amazon-sponsored events, or engage in exclusive partnerships with Amazon.” However, of the 800 artists who signed this pledge, it is likely that most were not invited in the first place. Less than 40 ended up on the festival flier.
“I’m not defending Amazon or this festival by any means. I didn’t even know this was an AWS fest when we signed on. I’m open to having this dialogue but this was the line in the sand I’m talking about. A ton of musicians have used amazon money for prod expenses and mvs” the musicians said via Twitter. (RELATED: Liberal Activists In Boston Protest Amazon’s Partnership With ICE, Block Traffic)
I’m not defending amazon or this festival by any means. I didn’t even know this was an aws fest when we signed on. I’m open to having this dialogue but this was the line in the sand I’m talking about. A ton of musicians have used amazon money for prod expenses and mvs
— Japanese Breakfast (@Jbrekkie) October 18, 2019
One of the artists adamant about not performing at the concert was The Black Madonna who later posted on Twitter, “What the fuck is this Amazon shit? I absolutely didn’t agree to this. Oh hell no.” However, as one user on Reddit pointed out the hypocrisy of her tweet, “her own site is hosted on GoDaddy which is on AWS, Twitter is on AWS (that she posted on), Soundcloud runs AWS, she sells digital music on Amazon Music.”
In the past decade, several high profile musicians have decided to perform for far more nefarious governments and organizations than Amazon.
Amid the Hong Kong protests, Taylor Swift will be performing at the Alibaba’s Annual Shopping Gala. Alibaba is an online platform for Chinese manufacturers to sell wholesale products to foreign retailers, most of which then resell their China-made products on Amazon. In 2005, 50 Cent went to Libya to perform for the now-deceased dictator Gadhafi, who had a long history of human rights violations. Then later in 2009, Beyonce, who is dubbed “Queen Be” by her fans, took a trip to Gadhafi’s palace. Even Nicki Minaj, one of the most famous female rappers in the world, traveled to Angola to perform for the dictator President José Eduardo dos Santos despite The Human Rights Foundation urging her to cancel the show. (RELATED: Nicki Minaj Performs For African Dictator)
After the media shamed them, Minaj claimed to donate the money to charity — however, the precedent had been set. While the music industry is trying to project an image of progressive consciousness, its track record tells a different story.
“We will not allow Amazon to exploit our creativity to promote its brand while it enables attacks on immigrants, communities of color, workers, and local economies,” the No Music for ICE organization writes. However, as history has shown, plenty of these artists are willing to exploit their creativity for dirty cash, even if it means singing for a dictator as he ravages the country.
Or if, as a company or an individual, you are interested in leveraging their creativity for public relations purposes, Nicki Minaj will sell you a feature for $250,000 and Lil Baby will sell you one for $25,000. That verse by your favorite artists on another artist’s song only got there because they got paid, they didn’t actually collaborate because they admired one another’s talent. The music business is exactly that, a business. (RELATED: Are More Government Subsidies Music To Amazon‘s Ears?)
The headliners of the show, The Foo Fighters, Beck and Anderson Paak, have not signed the pledge. Are they immoral for doing so? Progressives would surely say so. But most people are not going to condemn them for performing. There are endless artists waiting in the wings who would be glad to accept cash from Amazon, and if they pull out, others will simply take their place.