Amazon may be shipping out fewer guitar strings this week. The cloud-computing e-commerce behemoth is under fire from a growing number of musicians vowing to refrain from any Amazon-linked events or partnerships.
Last week, eyebrows raised when Amazon Web Services unveiled a pretty solid lineup for a Las Vegas music festival. The Intersect Music Festival (Dec. 6-7) is an open-to-the-public ancillary event to an annual conference Amazon hosts. The two-day fest is set to include stars such as Washington’s own Brandi Carlile, the Foo Fighters, Kacey Musgraves, Beck, and Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, plus hip indie acts Toro y Moi, Japanese Breakfast, Jpegmafia, and Sub Pop’s Weyes Blood.
In response, digital rights organization Fight for the Future launched a “No Music for ICE” petition on Wednesday, calling on artists to boycott Amazon-backed events and partnerships over its cloud services contracts with ICE and other federal agencies. “We the undersigned artists are outraged that Amazon continues to provide the technical backbone for ICE’s human rights abuses,” reads an open letter signed by more some 475 artists as of this writing.
Among its demands, the letter asks Amazon to terminate contracts with military, police and government agencies “that commit human rights abuses” and stop providing cloud services to organizations “that power the US government’s deportation machine.”
An Amazon representative could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Thus far, the growing number of petition signers have largely been indie acts, a roster that would make for a stellar music festival of their own, but without enough commercial sway to really make the tech juggernaut feel it. A number of Seattle musicians have signed the pledge, including Car Seat Headrest, Chastity Belt, Versing, Lisa Prank, Razor Clam, Emma Lee Toyoda, and Great Grandpa’s Alex Menne.
The boycott calls over Amazon’s ICE contracts also puts Carlile in somewhat of an interesting spot, after she pulled out of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit this week due former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s inclusion. “I don’t think human rights violators and merit-based abusers of displaced people should be given a platform to ‘reimagine’ history. Ever,” Carlile wrote announcing her decision. “The atrocity of family separation at our Southern border needs to go down in history as one of the United States of America’s most merciless acts.”
Carlile’s representatives could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Last week, DJ The Black Madonna announced that she was canceling her Intersect appearance, claiming she was unaware of Amazon’s involvement. “I will not be performing at Intersect Festival due to their relationship with Amazon Web Services who have business ties with ICE and Homeland Security,” she wrote on Twitter.
Beyond Intersect, Amazon — which has its own Amazon Music division and streaming platform — recently backed The Head and the Heart’s massive Pike Place Market rooftop concert in August and regularly books marquee artists like Katy Perry and Lorde for employees-only concerts at CenturyLink Field. More than music, Intersect — which scans as a teched-up mini Lollapalooza in Sin City — also promises a video arcade, “post-apocalyptic dodgeball stadium,” “mega-sized ball pit with over 200,000 balls” and lasers galore.