×

Made in America Festival Has a ‘Bright Future in Philadelphia,’ Says COO of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation (EXCLUSIVE)

After a six-day standoff that found heated words flying between Jay-Z and the Philadelphia mayor’s office, the two sides came to an agreement that will see Jay’s annual Made in America festival remaining on the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where it has been staged since 2012, for the next “several” years, according to Desiree Perez, COO of Jay’s Roc Nation.

Last week a rep for the mayor’s office told a local media outlet that the festival will have to be held elsewhere in the city in 2019 due to the costs — apparently without discussing the matter with Jay’s team first — adding that after six years, tourism has grown, so “the need for an event of this scale at this location may no longer be necessary.” In response, Jay fired off an angry op-ed that was published Wednesday in the Philadelphia Inquirer; the mayor told reporters that he wanted to keep the event in the city but that holding it on the Parkway had caused operational difficulties in its past. However, all sides reached an agreement today.

“The weekend was tense, but we got things done and today was very good,” Perez told Variety from Philadelphia, just hours after meeting with Mayor Kenney and several additional city government officials. “It’s a very positive outcome, with a bright future for Made in America at the Parkway in Philadelphia from 2019 on.”

While Perez allowed that she “was prepared for the worst going in,” during the meeting she found Kenney “refreshingly direct” in how he addressed the problems — which largely involved matters such as noise levels, parking, and the length of time it takes production crews to build and strike the festival’s staging.

“He came out straight away and said that there was a huge misunderstanding, and that it was a mishap that no one from his administration and Roc Nation had ever met or sat down face-to-face before this,” she said. “The mayor had community concerns that are natural whenever you have huge events coming into a city. They wanted our commitment that we would address those concerns — and we want to address them and have the community be happy with us and our decisions. We want to be part of the community — we don’t wish to just come in for the festival, then leave. The mayor wants us there, and on the Parkway.”

She added that Jay-Z is “happy about the outcome of the meeting.”

“I am greatly appreciative of everything that Made in America has done for the City of Philadelphia and I remain committed to its continued success,” Kenney said in a statement. “The Made in America festival belongs in Philadelphia — the birthplace of our country — and I’m optimistic that we can turn an unfortunate misunderstanding into a positive outcome and even stronger event.”

“We’re happy that the festival is staying in Philadelphia and on the Parkway, and we just want to move forward from there,” Perez concluded. “That was the first thing that the Mayor said to us when we walked into the meeting — he may have looked at Made in America, at first, as part of a prior administration. But I told him, ‘This is something that we brought to this city, it doesn’t belong to any administration, and whoever inherits it is getting something great — like a monument.’”

More Music

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    CityFM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called CityFM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And while [...]

  • Black Ball

    President Trump Speaks in Support of A$AP Rocky (Watch)

    In one of the more surreal moments from a presidency filled with few not-surreal moments, President Trump spoke out today in support of rapper A$AP Rocky, who has been jailed in Sweden for more than two weeks after an altercation with fans he said were harassing him. “A$AP Rocky is a situation in Sweden, a [...]

  • David Crosby and Cameron Crowe'David Crosby:

    Cameron Crowe Picks Five Favorite Underrated David Crosby Tracks

    “Music is love,” as David Crosby once sang, and nothing breeds deeper love than a sense that something is overlooked. So that’s why Variety asked Cameron Crowe to dig deep into the Crosby canon and pick not just a triad but five favorites from among the CSN singer’s most underrated tracks. Crowe, of course, has [...]

  • Live Nation Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Live Nation)

    Live Nation Confirms Placing Tickets Directly on Secondary Market at Artists’ Request

    Representatives for Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, confirmed that it bypassed conventional channels and directly placed thousands of concert tickets on the secondary market upon artists’ request, in an article published in Billboard. In a statement shared with Variety, the company acknowledged that it has facilitated the transfer of [...]

  • The Lion King The Gift

    Album Review: Beyoncé’s 'The Lion King: The Gift'

    Before touching down on what Beyoncé has called her “love letter to Africa,” it’s important to see what may have brought her to the mother of mankind, with its wide vistas and sonic planes, for “The Gift” in the first place — beyond, of course, voicing Nala in the film and whatever international marketing tie-ins [...]

  • Rick Rubin Spotify Secret Genius Awards,

    Seven Things We Learned About 'Shangri-La' and Rick Rubin from Showtime's Series

    Showtime’s documentary series “Shangri-La” insists it is not a biographical documentary on uber-producer Rick Rubin, and it’s not meant as a four-hour advertisement for Rubin’s legendary Malibu studio, after which the four-part series is named … but it feels like a little bit of both those things. “Shangri-La” is primarily filmed at the studio where [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content