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US music festival drops ethnicity-based pricing

AfroFuture Fest, a Detroit-based music festival that charged white people twice the price for tickets than people of colour, has standardised its ticket pricing.

AfroFuture Fest initially offered two strands of tickets, one “POC” set priced at US$20 and one “non-POC” option priced at $40.

“Our ticket structure was built to ensure that the most marginalised communities (people of colour) are provided with an equitable chance at enjoying events in their own community (black Detroit),” reads an explanation of the event’s initial ticketing structure.

“Affording joy and pleasure is unfortunately still a privilege in our society for POC and we believe everyone should have access to receiving such.”

The festival’s ticketing partner, Eventbrite, threatened to remove the event from its listings unless amendments were made to the pricing structure.

“We do not permit events that require attendees to pay different prices based on their protected characteristics such as race or ethnicity,” said an Eventbrite spokesperson.

“Our ticket structure was built to ensure that the most marginalised communities (people of colour) are provided with an equitable chance at enjoying events in their own community”

“In this case, we have notified the creator of the event about this violation and requested that they alter their event accordingly. We have offered them the opportunity to do this on their own accord; should they not wish to comply we will unpublish the event completely from our site.”

Detroit-based rapper Tiny Jag pulled out of the event after learning of the ticketing policy and apologised to “anyone who may have been triggered or offended”.

Afrofuture Youth, the community-based programme behind the festival, has now set all tickets at $20, with a “suggested donation for non-people of colour”.

The group’s founder and co-director, Adrienne Ayers, says the ticket structure was changed “for safety, not anything else but that”, following “threats from white supremacists” and “racist comments” on social media.

Half of the profits from the festival, which takes place on Saturday 3 August at Detroit’s Feedom Freedom farm, will go towards Afrofuture Youth.


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In-the-round Mumfords break Detroit arena record

British folk-pop act Mumfords & Sons broke the attendance record with their show at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena last Wednesday, promoter 313 Presents has revealed.

The show – part of the band’s fourth concert tour, the big-production, in-the-round Delta tour – played to 17,794 people on 27 March, a spokesperson for the 20,000-capacity arena tells WXYZ Detroit.

Detroit-based 313 Presents, which co-promoted the show with Live Nation, thanked the band for a “fantastic night and a broken record to date […] #1 paid attendance to date at Little Caesars Arena.”

After a troubled start in the UK plagued by “logistical” issues, the Delta tour headed to the US in December – with highlights including two nights at Madison Square Garden on 10 and 11 December – then to Australasia, before returning to North America in late February. The band will play a string of European arena and festival dates this summer.

Little Caesars Arena, located in the Midtown area of Detroit, Michigan, opened in 2017. It is operated by Olympia Entertainment (parent company of 313 Presents), which also owns several sports teams in Michigan.


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Entertainment ticket tax proposed in MI

Lawmakers in Detroit are mulling the introduction of a US$3 tax on concert tickets as a way to fund the city’s cash-strapped emergency services.

The proposed law, dubbed Senate Bill 884, would levy a $3-per-ticket tax on all entertainment events at venues with at least 5,000 seats in Michigan cities with a population of at least half a million (of which only Detroit would qualify). The revenue raised, says the bill’s sponsor, state senator Coleman Young II, would be equally distributed between the city’s police force, its fire brigade and its emergency medical services.

“This is not a tax for revenue raising purposes,” says Young. “I’m levying it so police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel can provide their services at an optimal rate.”

However, according to local paper Detroit Free Press, the bill is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate and House of Representatives – especially at a time when Republican president Donald Trump is slashing taxes on a national level.

Photo: © Coreyfein01 / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)


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Music biz pays tribute to Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell, the multi-octaved grunge pioneer who won frame fronting Soundgarden and later Audioslave, has died aged 52.

Cornell, who had been touring North America with Soundgarden, passed away last night after a show at the Fox Theatre (5,174-cap.) in Detroit.

In a statement to the Associated Press, the singer’s publicist, Brian Bumbery calls the death “sudden and unexpected” and says Cornell’s wife and family are in shock. He adds that the family would be “working closely with the medical examiner” to determine the cause.

With his gritty, nearly four-octave vocal range and songwriting that centred on unconventional, non-diatonic chord sequences, Cornell’s Soundgarden helped define the ’90s grunge sound along with bands such as Nirvana, the Melvins, Alice and Chains and Pearl Jam.

Following the 1997 dissolution of Soundgarden – who by then had scored two №1 albums with 1994’s Superunknown and 1996’s Down on the Upside – Cornell formed Audioslave, a supergroup also comprising Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford.

He later reformed Soundgarden after a successful solo career, the commercial highlight of which was top-five hit ‘You Know My Name’, the theme song to 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale.

Networking Music’s Ruud Berends, who with Paperclip Agency booked Soundgarden’s first European shows, expresses his “shock and surprise” at Cornell’s passing. “He was only 52… nobody was expecting it,” he comments.

“I can’t even begin to explain how much I’m going to miss his music”

Devraj Sanyal, the managing director of Universal Music Group in South Asia, says he “can’t even begin to explain how much I’m [going to] miss his music. I’m shattered and I’m heartbroken.”

Neil Portnow, the president and CEO of Grammys organiser The Recording Academy, says: “Chris’s extraordinary talent will forever live on and inspire fellow musicians and fans worldwide. We have lost an innovative member of our creative community, and our sincerest condolences go out to Chris’s family, friends, collaborators and all who have been impacted by his outstanding artistry.”

Several venues and festivals have also paid tribute to Cornell on social media. The Royal Albert Hall calls his debut solo show at the venue “one of our stand-out nights of 2016”, while AEG’s BST Hyde Park says Cornell “truly had one of the finest voices in rock and he will be deeply missed”. Live Nation Belgium’s Rock Werchter, meanwhile, expresses its sadness that “an amazing voice, musician, man is gone”.

As have several musicians: Jane Addiction’s Dave Navarro calls Cornell’s passing a “terrible and sad loss”, while Jimmy Page describes the late singer as an “incredible talent, incredibly young [and] incredibly missed”. Billy Idol says he was “sad to hear of Chris Cornell’s passing”, calling him a “great singer and artist”.


This article will be updated with comments from more industry figures as we receive them.


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