Jay Z saved Made In America by pulling up the receipts
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Roc Nation released a joint statement announcing that the Made In America music festival will stay in Philadelphia “for years to come”. The announcement ends a week-long saga which began when city officials announced to the press that 2018 would be the festival’s final year in Philly:
“When the festival first started, it was intended to provide a unique attraction to the city on the otherwise quiet Labor Day weekend,” a city spokesperson told Eyewitness News. “Over the years, tourism has grown overall and the need for an event of this scale at this location may no longer be necessary.”
This led Jay Z—founder of the Made In America fesitaval—to write an op-ed in the The Philadelphia Inquirer to challenge the decision. Here’s an excerpt:
Since 2012, Made in America, one of the only minority-owned festivals, has had a positive $102.8 million economic impact to Philadelphia, and the festival has paid $3.4 million in rent to the city. Made in America employs more than 1,000 Philadelphians each day and 85 percent of our partners are Philadelphia-based companies.
We have studies and reports that prove the festival significantly contributes to Philadelphia’s tourism bottom line. We cannot comment if the mayor has reviewed any of these materials.
Made in America has donated $2.9 million to the United Way of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Cause Village, the festival’s philanthropic footprint and hub for social action, averages more than 15,000 social actions taken over the [festival’s] two days via ongoing partnerships with more than 56 charitable and activist organizations representing all causes.
Our question is, “How do you think that tourism grew, Mayor Kenney?”
Jay pulled up the receipts on Mayor Kenney. Can’t blame him either. Mega-events have been a big contributor to Philly’s tourism growth. In 2016, the City of Brotherly Love hosted the Democratic National Convention, which brought in $231 million in economic impact. In 2017, Philly hosted the NFL Draft, bringing in $94.9 million. And the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl run and parade in January and February likely brought millions of dollars into the city. Neither of those three events is guaranteed to happen again in Philly anytime soon though, which might be skewing the city’s recent boom in tourism revenue. Made in America is an annual event that the city can bank on.
To be fair, the economic impact of mega-events is widely overstated. Factors like opportunity cost and displacement are rarely taken into account. Also, a single Uber ride or taxi fare is considered a “job created”. But despite its flaws, we can still use the measure to compare events relative to each other.
Cancelling Made In America would have been bad optics as well. The city is riding a wave of cultural resurgence in hip-hop and sports. Meek Mill was released from prison in April. The 76ers are one of the most promising young NBA teams. The Eagles turned Meek’s “Dreams and Nightmares” into their Super Bowl anthem. Plus, there’s a new Creed movie coming out this November. Philly made the right move to keep this festival.
SZA or Rae Sremmurd should replace Cardi B on the Bruno Mars tour
The 24K Magic Tour is now without Cardi B. The news came suddenly this week via Bardi’s Instagram page. She was slated to tour across America with Bruno Mars in less than six weeks. Offset from the Migos, Cardi’s husband, is touring across the U.S. at the same time as the 24K Magic Tour. The “Bodak Yellow” artist is not interested in having a nanny, and she wants to spend more time at home with her daughter, Kulture. (I’d argue that Bardi is a bigger value add to the 24K Magic Tour than Offset is to “Aubrey and the Three Migos”, but that’s a topic for another day.)
This tour has already earned over $300 million, averaging nearly $2 million gross per show. Cardi was slotted to perform 29 shows. Bloomberg reports that opening acts on major tours often earn flat fees of ~$15,000 per show, but that seems very low for Cardi B. Bruno himself is likely bringing in 30-40% of each show’s gross total ($600-800K per show). Even if Cardi took home 3% of the show’s gross, that would be $1.7 million total for the 29 shows. That’s a nice pay day for whoever fills her spot.
Bruno might have already found a replacement, but he’s not telling us who it is yet. Earlier 24K Magic Tour stops had Khalid, Dua Lipa, Anderson .Paak, and Camilla Cabello as opening acts. Bardi is a tough act to replace. Easy choices are rising pop stars like Charlie Puth or Halsey, but it would be nice for Bruno to find another hip-hop artist.
Bruno should call up Rae Sremmurd or SZA. They’re not big enough to draw a stadium-sized audience themselves, but like Cardi, they already have hit records (“Black Beatles”, “All the Stars”, respectively). Both acts have a lot of range as recording artists—especially Rae Sremmurd, who can sing and rap. It would help maintain the hip-hop balance for the fans who bought tickets to see Cardi B.
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