After having to cancel the 2020 Made in America Festival, Roc Nation, headed by musician and founder Jay-Z and CEO Desiree Perez, is excited to bring it back for Labor Day 2021.
The event, set for September 4-6, has been a part of the culture of Philadelphia since 2012. It brings thousands of fans to the Historic Benjamin Franklin Parkway annually for all sorts of music and entertainment, everything from hip hop to EDM to grunge.
Besides featuring Jay-Z, previous lineups have included everyone from Pearl Jam to Nicki Minaj.
In 2018, Desiree Perez, then the Chief Operating Officer of Roc Nation, reported that the event brought in more than $102 million annually to the local economy. Besides people buying tickets and refreshments, festival guests from around the country stay at hotels, eat at restaurants, and buy other products and services when they’re in town for the celebration, contributing significantly to the event’s economic impact.
It’s an event that has received praise from multiple mayors as well as other city officials at all levels, and more importantly, from many fans who come back to the festival year after year. The fans are especially why Desiree Perez and other organizers are excited about 2021.
In 2020, the event, like many around the world, had to be canceled due to COVID-19 concerns and Pennsylvania’s regulations on large gatherings. But ticket holders were asked to hold onto their tickets because they would be valid for the 2021 festival. For those who can’t make it to the 2021 event, refunds are available.
This year’s line-up is still in the works but is likely to include Jay-Z along with some of the performers who were slated to play in 2020 including Lil Uzi Vert, Lizzo, Juice Wrld, and others.
Led by Desiree Perez, Roc Nation Continues Philanthropic Mission
Along with plenty of music, the Made in America Festival also has a social component. Proceeds are always given to a variety of national causes that help others, everything from improving the lives of foster children to efforts to reform the criminal justice system.
Desiree Perez continues to be a champion of the event, and part of her role as CEO of Roc Nation has been to make sure things go smoothly.
Sometimes this has involved trying to fight City Hall, or at least Mayor Jim Kenney’s office, like she and Roc Nation did in 2018.
That year, Desiree Perez and other organizers were getting mixed messages as they planned the event. While city officials didn’t say anything to her directly, one of the show’s vendors reported the city was trying to charge them extra and allegedly trying to find ways to cancel the event. She also refused a city request to share the planned list of performers, something she didn’t want to do until it was released to the public.
Desiree Perez shared that she and other Roc Nation staff tried to contact anyone from the mayor’s office to discuss any concerns but never received a call or email back.
Finally, Perez made some public pronouncements that discussed the history of the event, how successful it had been, and how cooperative the previous mayor was. Perez shared the communications challenges between the city and herself, including the fact that charges for fees like fire protection or security were substantially higher than they were supposed to be. She also explained that the festival is important for the whole country, and even though Philadelphia has so much history attached to it, other cities would be proud to host it too if they couldn’t come to any arrangement.
A few days later, Mayor Kenney announced that he was firmly behind the festival, and said any concerns from the city stemmed from worries that work crews would be tired after putting up and taking down so many stages that weekend for Made in America and other large-scale events. And, although he loves the event, he also wondered if there were other places in Philadelphia that it could someday move to, besides the parkway.
Since then, the 2018 and 2019 Made in America festivals went smoothly, demonstrating the power of good communication, something that Desiree Perez is known for.
As an executive of Roc Nation since 2009, Perez has been involved in contract negotiating and more. She became CEO of the company at the end of 2019.
For more information about Made In America Music Festival 2021, visit https://www.visitphilly.com/things-to-do/events/made-in-america-festival/
For more information about Desiree Perez, follow her on Facebook.