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700+ artists boycott Amazon over ICE ties

Just over a week after Amazon Web Services (AWS) revealed the full line-up for its Intersect music festival, over 700 musicians have pledged to boycott any Amazon-affiliated event or partnership due to the e-commerce giant’s links with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Artists including Deerhoof, Speedy Ortiz, Downtown Boys, Priests and Guy Picciotto have signed the ‘No Music for ICE’ open letter, published by digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future. The group is also behind a recent campaign urging festivals to ban facial recognition technology.

The letter states that the signatories are “outraged” that Amazon “continues to provide the technical backbone for ICE’s human rights abuses”.

The artists pledge to boycott “Amazon-sponsored events” and “exclusive partnerships” until the company terminates existing contracts with ICE, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR); stops supplying cloud services and tools to organisations that “power the US government’s deportation machine”; and ends facial recognition projects and any others that “encourage racial profiling”.

“We the undersigned artists are outraged that Amazon continues to provide the technical backbone for ICE’s human rights abuses”

The boycott comes after DJ the Black Madonna pulled out of her appearance at Intersect, claiming that Amazon Web Services’ affiliation with the event was not made apparent.

“If you were shocked I’d play for Amazon, well that makes two of us,” tweeted the DJ. “Please be patient while I burn some bridges.”

Artists still confirmed to play AWS’ Intersect festival, which is taking place from 6 to 7 December in Las Vegas, include Kacey Musgraves, Foo Fighters, Anderson.Paak, Beck, Brandi Carlile, Jamie XX and HER. Weekend passes are available for US$169.

Amazon has attempted to tap into the live scene in recent years, with its streaming arm, Amazon Music, hosting Taylor Swift-headlined Prime Day concert in July. Other, albeit short-lived, forays into the live industry by the web giant include event ticketing operation Amazon Tickets and concert series Prime Live Events.

 


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Amazon announces full line-up for new Intersect festival

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has revealed the full artist line-up for Intersect, its music and technology festival debuting in Las Vegas next month.

Acts including Jpegmafia, Toro y Moi, the Black Madonna, Japanese Breakfast and Kelsey Lu join the likes of Foo Fighters, Kacey Musgraves, Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals, Beck, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, HER and Jamie XX at the event, which will take place on 6 and 7 November at the 85,000-capacity Las Vegas Festival Grounds.

The festival – which follows the Taylor Swift-headlined Prime Day concert as the web giant’s first new live entertainment project since the abrupt shutdown of Amazon Tickets and Prime Live Events early last year – also includes a reported million square feet (93,000m²) of games and activities, including a video arcade, a ‘post-apocalyptic’ dodgeball stadium and a huge ball pit with 200,000 balls, as well as installations and exhibitions by acclaimed visual artists and a drone light show celebrating women in tech.

“We’ve built a pretty amazing and unusual live music experience at our annual AWS conference that attendees have loved”

Ariel Kelman, vice-president of worldwide marketing for AWS, comments: “Music has been an uncanny unifier of people over the years. We’ve built a pretty amazing and unusual live music experience at our annual AWS conference that attendees have loved, and with Intersect, we’re excited to extend this unique event into a two-day, public music festival.

“Festivalgoers can look forward to a mix of musical performances from legendary acts like the Foo Fighters and Kacey Musgraves, and unique musical talents from the likes of Brandi Carlile, Kelsey Lu, and Jpegmafia, coupled with immersive digital installations and some of the interactive games and technology elements our AWS re:Invent and re:Play attendees know and love.”

Two-day tickets are priced from US$169 and available from intersectfest.com.

 


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Streaming companies up live presence with new concerts

Apple and Amazon, whose Apple Music and Amazon Music platforms are respectively the second and third most popular music streaming services worldwide, have announced plans for new live events this summer.

Ecommerce giant Amazon will expand this year’s Prime Day – a Black Friday-like discount day for members of its Prime loyalty programme – with a new entertainment component: a Prime Day concert headlined by Taylor Swift.

Available to view from 9pm EST (1am GMT) next Wednesday (11 July) on Amazon’s Prime Video service, the concert’s all-female line-up also includes Dua Lipa, SZA and Becky, as well as actor Jane Lynch, who will host the event.

“We can’t wait to celebrate Prime Day with an extraordinary night of unforgettable performances, for members around the globe,” says Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music. “Prime Day brings members the best of both entertainment and shopping. To celebrate, we’ve curated a line-up across multiple genres with performances from artists our customers love.

“We’re looking forward to celebrating Prime Day with this can’t-miss, one-of-a-kind event.”

Amazon previous organised a series of shows in the UK, dubbed Prime Live Events, though these were wound up in early 2018 following the shutdown of its Amazon Tickets business.

“We’re looking forward to celebrating Prime Day with this can’t-miss, one-of-a-kind event”

Apple, meanwhile, is taking Apple Music’s Up Next programme and playlist, which focuses on emerging artists, to retail stores across Europe and the US under the banner Up Next Live.

Up Next artists, including Bad Bunny, Daniel Caesar, Khalid, Ashley McBryde, King Princess, Lewis Capaldi and Jessie Reyez, will each play an intimate show in Apple shops in Italy, France, London and the US, starting with Latin star Bad Bunny at Apple Piazza Liberty in Milan on 9 July.

Apple operated its own music festival, Apple Music Festival (formerly the iTunes Festival), in London from 2007 until its cancellation in 2017, and has also sponsored select tours.

Commenting on his involvement with the Up Next initiative, Puerto Rican-born Bad Bunny says: “The impact [of being part of Up Next] can be seen in everything, in numbers, in plays, in shows. There are a lot of fans that, when I go out in the street in the US, people who do not speak Spanish, I think they will not know me and they stop me, they ask me for pictures and they sing my songs…

“It helped me very much to make myself known in a market different from mine, not only the US, but in places where Spanish is not spoken or where perhaps Latin music does not dominate, exposing my music and giving people the opportunity to get to know what I do.”

Streaming market leader Spotify has also taken its playlists on the road, including the Latin-led ¡Viva Latino! Live, grime-focused Who We Be Live and US hip hop-orientated RapCaviar Live.

 


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See Tickets offering three-month Amazon Music sub

See Tickets has partnered with Amazon to offer See customers a free subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited.

Until 2 November, purchasing a ticket using Amazon Pay will entitle the buyer to a three-month subscription to Amazon’s music streaming service, which the company says has a library of 50m songs.

After completing payment with Amazon Pay – a digital payments platform competing with the likes of Apple Pay and Google Play – a code for Amazon Music Unlimited will appear on the bottom of the ticket confirmation email.

According to MIDiA Research, Amazon Music Unlimited – usually £9.99/$9.99 a month – has a global streaming marketshare of 12%, behind Spotify (36%) and Apple Music (19%) but ahead of China’s Tencent Music (8%), Deezer (3%) and Google Play Music (3%).

Amazon was briefly a competitor to See Tickets in the UK market, before its fledgling Amazon Tickets business was wound up in February.

 


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US Senate proposes sending emergency alerts via streaming services

The US Senate is in the process of considering a bill that would allow the government to send out emergency alerts via streaming services. The proposal is part of the government’s wider effort to improve the delivery of emergency alerts.

The READI act – standing for Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement – seeks to take advantage of the US population’s music streaming habit, which last year added $4 billion to the music industry’s yearly revenue. With bi-partisan support across the senate, the bill could be debated in the next legislative session.

The enthusiasm for a new alert system in the US comes after a false emergency alert was sent out to Hawaiian citizens back on 13 January 2018. The alert warned of an imminent missile threat and ended with “This is not a drill.” A similar incident happened just a few days after in Japan.

“In a real emergency, these alerts can save lives so we have to do everything we can to get it right.”

According to statistics, user penetration from music streaming services currently stands at 49.7% in 2018. This is expected to rise to over half the population by 2022. By all accounts, these numbers make popular services like Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music an attractive choice for the US government to reach as many people as possible in an emergency.

Currently, when an emergency alert is issued – for bad weather, danger threats or an amber alert (relating to missing children) – citizens will find a message explaining the situation on their smartphones, as well as being notified through televisions and radio. Supporters of the READI act believe integrating the alerts into streaming services will increase the likelihood alerts are seen and acted upon accordingly.

Citing the false emergency alert in Hawaii in January, Senator Brian Schatz, co-sponsor of the act, explained the necessity for making alerts as accessible as possible: “Some people never got the message on their phones, while others missed it on their TVs and radios.

“In a real emergency, these alerts can save lives so we have to do everything we can to get it right.”

 


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