The modern music festival presents the music lover with a dilemma. On the one hand, it is a voracious capitalist beast, sucking money out of attendees’ bank accounts and nipping at the heels of corporate sponsors. In the end, organizers rake in tons of cash, the host city gets a cut, and the bands get a little richer. The attendees – here’s the other hand – they get the memories.
In its second year, the Miami Music Festival (Nov. 11 – 14) amps up the dilemma by cutting the bands out of the profit. In fact, musicians must submit a $35 application fee to be considered for the MMF lineup. At which point MMF forfeits its claim to be a festival and becomes a short-term business model with a great name.
Perhaps the $35 non-refundable application fee explains the dearth of known quantities in the MMF lineup. Among the 400-plus acts, only the Vivian Girls have national clout … and they’re from Brooklyn!
Without the allure of national headliners, one would at least expect to see Miami’s musical core beefing up the lineup. But don’t get excited for Rachel Goodrich, Jessie Jackson, Raffa & Rainer, Sloane Peterson, or Harvey and the Buckets. They’re not playing. When I asked Irwin Kornfeld, MMF’s CEO and organizer, why, he turned the table.
“We don’t choose acts,” he said. “The acts choose us.”