Posted December 6, 2019, 8:57 PM
This weekend, dozens of musicians will perform at Amazon Web Service’s Intersect Festival, a manifestation of Amazon’s desire to build toward a monopoly over the music industry.
Sparked in part by outcry from artists who did not know Intersect was presented by Amazon, over 1000 musicians rallied under our No Music For ICE banner to sign a letter demanding that Amazon terminate contracts enabling the gross abuse of human rights. Then, on Black Friday, dozens of artists escalated their commitment by removing their music from the Amazon streaming platform.
“No Music for ICE plans to continue protesting until our demand is met — that Amazon ceases to provide technology powering ICE’s detentions and deportations,” Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz said in a statement. “But it was the October announcement of AWS’ Intersect festival that initially inspired us to organize, and to sever all future connections between our work and the human rights atrocities that drive Amazon’s profit. We’re commemorating the festival’s start with a reminder of what Intersect is really built on, and what abuses it’s distracting from. Complicitfest is our parody, but the real harm caused by Amazon, AWS, and Palantir’s collaboration with ICE is no joke.”
Amazon’s efforts to break into the music industry, which also include sponsoring music festivals like Coachella, are an effort to co-opt our art and use it to whitewash their brand and the evil it is doing in the world. Festivals like Intersect, big sponsorship dollars, and big music licensing deals for Amazon Prime shows like The Expanse (listed as a presenter of Intersect), are a trojan horse for the music industry. Through these efforts, Amazon has already gained enough power to make some artists afraid to join us. And, they’re right to be nervous — if Amazon becomes the hand that feeds culture, then culture workers won’t be able to resist without major career consequences.
Intersect festival is only a symptom of a larger problem with Amazon’s monopoly, and Amazon’s choices to abuse human rights. We’re calling for artists to use their platforms (especially those bankrolled by Amazon) to elevate the voices and causes oppressed by Amazon — at Intersect, and at every event sponsored by Amazon in 2020.
“Amazon seems hellbent on bonegrafting itself to US government agencies that routinely violate human rights. They market racist facial recognition software to ICE. They openly lie about the details of their Ring surveillance partnerships with police. And their streaming platform offers the artists some of the worst per-play pay of any platform,” said Don Giovanni Records artist and deputy director of Fight for the Future, Evan Greer. “Artists don’t need Amazon. Amazon needs us. They’re trying to invade the music industry to score cool points for their brand. They think organizing music festivals and partnering with hip artists will distract from the fact that their surveillance capitalist business model is fundamentally at odds with democracy and human dignity. This is our moment. Artists are drawing a line in the sand. And we’re just getting started.”