Many have tried, but most have failed. In a city as rich with culture and music as Miami, why do the music festivals that should be launching the careers of our talented musicians fail so miserably? In the recent months, both the Future Classic Festival and Miami Music Festival made attempts to promote local talent and give them great amounts of exposure, but in the end, complaints were all that were heard, both by the musicians and the concertgoers.
On September 12th of this past year, the Future Classic Festival arrived at Soho Studios in the Wynwood district of Miami. Hours upon hours of the best local music and art were promised, and an amazing headliner, N.E.R.D. even performed. For a very reasonable $25, all of this could be yours...unless you wanted to hear all of the bands listed on the bill and wanted to be able to enjoy the music. Among others, Miami favorites Afrobeta and MAYDAY!, were bumped from the concert completely. Because the show started very late, and N.E.R.D. went on close to their scheduled time, these acts never even got to perform. Furthermore, the sound system left something to be desired; it made typically wonderful music sound like teenagers playing in their parents' garages. The musicians were reportedly treated very poorly, as they were not even offered water or any other refreshments on this sweltering Miami night.
Over the weekend of December 10th through the 12th, Miami Music Festival came to various locations throughout downtown Miami. This time, the promoters promised 25 stages of Miami's best music for $10 for a day pass to each venue, $25 for an unlimited day pass, or $50 for a full weekend pass. Similarly to the Future Classic Festival, the musicians were not treated well. On top of having to pay $35 to submit an audition tape, the musicians were not paid, had to pay to park, and were unable to have a guest list to bring friends or family members. The festival was not well promoted, and many of the venues had pitifully few attendees.
Both of these events should have been smashing successes, but why did they come up short? Are the people of Miami unwilling to support local musicians? I do not believe so. Each weekend, Miami music lovers fill the bars and clubs in anticipation of their favorite musicians. Were the prices too high to attract people unfamiliar with the local Miami music scene? This may have deterred a few potential concertgoers, but certainly cannot be the entire problem.
Is it a general disregard for the well-being of the musicians and artists? Are the promoters most concerned with spending as little money as possible? Are some of Miami's musicians turned off by the hustle and bustle of these festivals and prefer to organize their own smaller, more intimate shows? That remains to be seen, and I am sure that it varies from band to band. Is it simply a lack of organization and preparation? If the organizers and promoters of these festivals spent just a little more time and attention to details (and the musicians), would they had better results?
This article is not meant to completely blast the organizers and promoters of the Future Classic Festival and the Miami Music Festival, but to start a discussion about how they could be improved for the future. Both of these events could have (should have?) united hundreds of Miami's residents in appreciating what we have in this beautiful city of ours. Miami is a dynamic and vibrant city with amazing local talent, but if these musicians and artists continue to be under-appreciated, what is preventing them from stopping what they are doing or even leaving Miami to pursue their careers elsewhere?