Jay-Z, Philly Officials Go Back And Forth Over Made In America Festival

Courtesy Golden 1 Center
– Jay-Z
Jay-Z draws a packed house at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., Dec. 17.

Representatives for the mayor of Philadelphia said early July 18 that Jay-Z’s annual Made In America festival will no longer be able to use Benjamin Franklin Parkway after this year’s edition, and the rapper/mogul responded with an open letter saying the city had actually tried to cancel this year’s event.

News initially broke via Billy Penn that a city communications director had said “the need for an event of this scale at this location may no longer be necessary.”

Live Nation’s Omar Al-Joulani told The Philadelphia Inquirer the news came as a shock and no one in Roc Nation or Live Nation had been consulted prior to the statement’s release to the media.

Jay-Z, who started putting on the festival at the parkway in 2012, seemed hurt in an open letter published by The Inquirer.

“We are disappointed that the mayor of the city of Philadelphia would evict us from the heart of the city, through a media outlet, without a sit-down meeting, notice, dialogue, or proper communication,” Jay-Z wrote. “It signifies zero appreciation for what Made In America has built alongside the phenomenal citizens of this city. In fact, this administration immediately greeted us with a legal letter trying to stop the 2018 event.”

The Jiggaman went on to review the benefits that Made In America has brought to Philly, citing a positive $102 million economic impact to the city, payment of $3.4 million in rent, and more than 1,000 jobs on the days the festival is held.

It wasn’t totally clear at press time why Made In America was losing access to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 2019, though recent large events at the venue have reportedly caused traffic and noise headaches for residents.

See Also: Think Globally, Empower Locally: Why Live Nation Has No Festival Division

Made In America will be held Sept. 1-2 with Nicki Minaj, Post Malone, Diplo, Zedd and Meek Mill all set to perform.

Last year’s edition of the festival, headlined by Migos and J. Cole, reported a total of 111,189 tickets moved and more than $8 million grossed.

The festival was formerly known as Budweiser Made In America, but the beer company stopped sponsoring it this year, with reps telling Billy Penn the company was choosing to focus more on country music events.

UPDATE: Mayor Jim Kenney’s office sent the following statement to Pollstar: “The City of Philadelphia supports the Made in America festival and is greatly appreciative of all that it has done for Philadelphia. We are committed to its continued success and thank them for their partnership. We hope to be able to resolve what has been an unfortunate misunderstanding. We are working with Roc Nation and Live Nation to resolve this issue and we are committed to continuing our partnership with the Made in America festival.”

Live Nation sent the following statement to Pollstar: “Live Nation wholeheartedly supports Jay-Z and Roc Nation’s bid to keep the Made In America Festival at its home on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

“We have yet to hear a compelling or plausible explanation for why the festival cannot return to the site where it has successfully been housed for six years and generated $102.8M in positive economic impact to the city.  

“From Billie Holiday to Will Smith, Patti LaBelle, Jill Scott, The Roots and countless others, urban music is an indelible part of Philadelphia’s culture and history.  By handicapping Made In America’s ability to bring the best show possible to the best site possible, this administration makes a statement about how it values the arts and plans to protect and expand the city’s vibrant musical heritage.”