Almost 500 artists – most of them relatively unknown – have signed an open letter stating that they will boycott concerts, namely the Intersect Music Festival sponsored by Amazon Web Services, until Amazon relinquishes its contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The artists include Deerhoof, Ted Leo, Álex Anwandter, Immortal Technique, Speedy Ortiz, Guy Picciotto of Fugazi, Downtown Boys, Xenia Rubinos, Priests, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Riobamba, Evan Greer, Xiu Xiu, Mothers, Sheer Mag, and Jeff Rosenstock according to one report.
“Amazon’s connection to ICE is through the database services it provides to Palantir, a data analytics company which has contracts with the agency,” NPR said.
The musicians listed their demands in an open letter, which can be read in its entirety here:
* Terminate existing contracts with military, law enforcement, and government agencies (ICE, CBP, ORR) that commit human rights abuses
* Stop providing Cloud services & tools to organizations (such as Palantir) that power the US government’s deportation machine
* End projects that encourage racial profiling and discrimination, such as Amazon’s facial recognition product
* Reject future engagements w/ aforementioned bad actors.
It’s worth noting that the Amazon boycott trend only appeared under President Donald J. Trump’s first term in office. Despite the fact that the Obama administration shared many of the same deportation and imprisonment practices as the current one.
The boycott is led by nonprofit Fight for the Future “whose mission is to ensure that the web continues to hold freedom of expression and creativity at its core,” according to its webpage.
“We will not allow Amazon to exploit our creativity to promote its brand while it enables attacks on immigrants, communities of color, workers, and local economies. We call on all artists who believe in basic rights and human dignity to join us,” the letter reads.
The Intersect Festival will be held December 6-9 at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds. Its lineup features superstars Beck, The Foo Fighters, Kacey Musgraves, and Leon Bridges. It will be bereft of not-so-popular musicians like Girlpool, Pity Sweater, and Sad Baxter (none of whom this reporter has ever heard of) along with washed up rapper Immortal Technique. It is unclear whether any of the artists who are boycotting The Intersect Festival were actually invited to perform at it.
CloudTweaks spoke with some of the artists who are refusing to perform at Amazon events.
For example, Evan Greer, who describes herself as a “queer indie-punk artist and Deputy Director of Fight for the Future” and is quite forthright about noting that her pronouns are “she/her” said the following:
“Lots of companies do unethical stuff. Amazon seems to enjoy it. They’re trying to bone graft themselves to government agencies and authoritarian structures to make their monopoly status impossible to challenge. As big tech and surveillance capitalism creep further and further into the music industry, it’s no surprise that artists are fighting back.”
Amazon is not the greatest company on Earth, and this is in no way an endorsement of it or of Jeff Bezos, the company’s CEO who also owns the far-left Washington Post, but it seems like the artists might be going a little bit overboard. If I was the leader of a band no one had ever heard of, I’d likely take a gig wherever I could get it.