Earlier this week, Intersect Festival announced its inaugural lineup featuring artists like Kacey Musgraves, Japanese Breakfast, JPEGMafia, and so many other amazing acts. Not only does the festival have a killer lineup, but it also has art installations, cuisine made by local chefs, and even a space for attendees to play dodgeball in a “post-apocalyptic arena,” along with tons of other fun activities for the festival-goers to take part in. After all, on the festival’s website, the event is described as “the place where music, technology, and art converge…”
This all sounds really great and super fun, right?
Well, there’s one problem, and it’s a pretty big one. The festival is being put on by Amazon.
The fact that the festival is being put on by Amazon was absent in the contracts the artists signed upon agreeing to play Intersect. However, only one artist dropped out of the festival when they found out the major tech company is behind it. Kentucky native and ever so talented DJ, Black Madonna, was that one artist. When she found out that Amazon was involved in the festival, she tweeted, “If you were shocked I’d play for Amazon, well that makes two of us. Please be patient and while I burn some bridges. Updates soon.” and then she was taken off the bill.
Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner also tweeted about her what she had felt when she learned of Amazon’s involvement with Intersect Festival. In a series of tweets, she said she felt “conflicted” about playing the festival now upon the revelation of who’s running it.
I must ask, what is there to be conflicted about? I’m not just asking Zauner, I’m asking everyone who is still on the bill. Amazon does so much bad for our society, so why are any of these artists still playing this festival?
I have so many questions for everyone playing this festival.
Is playing a show at a one-of-a-kind festival really more important than the conditions Amazon warehouse workers are forced to put up with? The conditions warehouse workers face are far extreme, due to long shifts workers are obligated to work and the tech giant's push for productivity. The conditions are so cruel that between 2013 and 2018, there were at least 189 calls to 911 from Amazon warehouses regarding suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health episodes, according to an article from Newsweek. In that same article, one former amazon employee stated that employees at the warehouses are treated as “disposable parts.” Along with putting up with harsh conditions, the workers have to put up with wages that leave them below the poverty line. Thousands of Amazon employees receive government benefits, such as SNAP, while Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder is LITERALLY the richest man in the world. Amazon fulfillment centers employ, roughly, 125,000 workers in the US, while Jeff Bezos is worth almost $111 billion. Jeff Bezos could give each employee $880,000 and still have $1 billion leftover for himself, but his employees continue to struggle and live in poverty. Staying on the festival means you’re okay with that.
Is making a quick buck more important than Seattle’s homeless epidemic that Amazon continues to perpetuate? Seattle has nearly 7,000 homeless people and the city’s government tried to issue a tax bill that would hopefully fix their homeless crisis. This bill would force all large employers in Seattle, Amazon’s hometown, to pay a $275 tax per employee in an attempt to raise $50 million annually to help their homeless. Amazon grossed roughly $10 billion in 2018. So, let’s hypothetically say Amazon employs 100,000 people, they would only have to pay $27,500,000 to pay the tax proposed by the city’s elected officials. If this would have happened, Amazon would have grossed $9.9 billion in 2018 instead of $10 billion. This tax would have hardly made a dent in Amazon’s profit, but instead of doing the math, like I did and I’m a big lazy idiot, Amazon decided to halt all of its ongoing construction in the city to protest the proposed tax. Amazon literally threw a fit because they couldn’t stand to lose the smallest percentage of their revenue in order to help Seattle’s homeless. Do you still want to play this festival knowing this information?
Is playing one more show this year more important than the lives of immigrants here in the United States? ICE uses Palantir software to keep track of immigrants living in the United States. This software allows for ICE to essentially hunt down the people they track in their databases to deport them much easier. So what is Amazon’s role in all of this? Well, Amazon Web Services, the branch of Amazon that is literally putting on this festival, hosts these databases that allow ICE to more effectively detain immigrants. Amazon is being complacent in mass deportations in the US by providing ICE with the technological backbone of their tracking down of people. Playing this festival also makes you complacent in the cruel doings of ICE.
Amazon is a cold-blooded corporation run by a bitter, bald man. Their business practices are obviously nothing but atrocious, and because of this, I am calling for all artists to drop out of the festival. I doubt this piece will reach any of them, but I am genuinely so very disappointed in everyone on the bill for staying on the lineup after realizing who’s behind the festival.