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(Almost) Nothing is Free

Today’s blog comes from the heart. Our goal, which we’d hope we’ve made clear, is to be a platform for all creatives from all artistic outlets. This platform, as many of you know, consists of different events throughout Miami and the greater Miami community.

Why are we telling you this? Because we heard a story (and have experienced multiple more) that we can’t shake off. It’s not like it’s a crime or anything, it’s just wrong. Here’s how it goes:

There was an event last week near Wynwood: 100-200 people. Nothing huge, just a nice get to getter with local musicians, artists, and the youth. From our memory the show started at 8 and went to 12. The details, to be really honest, are irrelevant. What we learned from being there is something that only made sense after the fact. Thankfully, we knew the event organizer and could ask him what’s up. Our question was simple: Why are there so many people without wristbands?

Like many events in Miami and the world, wristbands is the way to go. It’s easy to recognize who has a wristband and who doesn’t, it’s cheaper than printing tickets and more than anything, it’s effective. The event organizer told us something along the lines of “I don’t know”. Well, being investigative and all that, we searched for the answer.

There’s two possibilities. One, people walked right past the “host” and never paid the ticket. Two, people used the backdoor. Both instances are preventable and it’s the event organizers fault for not having security at the front and back door controlling the ticketing. Another pain point is (probably) that the “host” of the event knew many attendees, either letting them in for free or giving them the yes nod to proceed without paying.

What bothers us more than anything is not that people got in for free but that they didn’t try to pay. This is the time to tell you that the event (last week) was only $5! How could people not pay it? That’s the question we need to answer and together, we need to think about. More than telling you the answer we want to give you the facts. We’re event organizers, we talk events on a daily, maybe even hourly, basis. Events cost way more time and money than any attendee would ever expect. Here’s a list of some things that we keep in mind when forming a budget:

  • Permits

  • Insurance

  • Musicians

  • Artists

  • Marketing

  • Security

  • Venue

  • Bar

  • Staff

  • Production: Sound and Lighting

This is just the tip of the iceberg of expenses that event organizers have to endure in order to throw an event. Yes, we know, there are exceptions. Someone might know someone and get a hook up on a venue, someone might not pay musicians, artists, security, etc. The possibilities are, of course, endless. Speaking only on our experience and how we like to produce events, we like to pay everyone. In order to pay everyone, we need, more than anything, income.

Another story we’ve been throwing around in our heads is one an attendee told us at Dylan Hall’s E.P. Release Party last year. She said, and I quote, “If the event isn’t free for me then I’m not going”. Excuse me? Free for you? Why? Because you're a girl? Look sweetheart and all the other sweethearts in Miami that think it’s ok for men to pay $20+ cover and for girls to be free: It is not ok. It is not normal. It is sexist, and Miami is one of the only places in the world that allows it.

We can go on a rant about how sexist and condescending the idea of girls being free and guys having to pay at events is but we’ll leave it for another blog. This blog already addresses such a large stigma about events that we think we did our job. Now it’s your turn. When you go to the next event we want you to think about all the time and expenses put into it. We want you to imagine what the event organizer went through, from first finding the venue to forming the theme of the event, adding musicians, artists and most importantly, executing it. Have a great day and while you're going to your Spring Break events, whether it be this week, next week, or in a month from now, think twice before sneaking in.

Side-Note: This blog is meant to address an issue that happens all over the event world and will never be resolved. Specifically in Miami and with us, UMAMI, the problem is greater. People do everything they can to get around paying and were left to hire additional workers to take care of the perpetrators. Do we want to? Absolutely not. Do we want to loose money? Definitely not. All we want is for the Miami arts community to grow and prosper. That’s why we do it.

Ultra, Rolling Loud, iii Points: You're all the same.

Yup, we said it. The biggest music festivals in Miami are all, let’s say it again, the same. Genre? Ok, that’s different but we aren’t talking genres, we’re talking big picture. Date? Yes, that’s valid and venues, those are different too. What we’re talking about today is pricing, accessibility, and goal.

Ultra, Rolling Loud, and III Points (2019) ALL have price points over $300. I don’t care where or when you bought the ticket, there’s no way you payed less. To be honest, most of us payed more (if you’re lucky enough to go). To make the math quick, it’s $100 a day. Add drinks, food, weed, and all the extras you’re looking at $150.

We love to say that “we’re rich” in Miami, right? That we can afford anything? Try going to one of these festivals and tell us that you aren’t hurting after. We won’t believe you. No matter how much $150 is to you, $150 is A LOT of money for one day of fun. Yes, you get to see all these great acts that separately would’ve been $50 a pop. We understand that. But, and there’s always a but, these festivals have the ability, first of all, to make it cheaper. On top of that, they’re using the same venue for multiple days (meaning better pricing). You start thinking about that and well, you get upset. Just like we are.

To understand our frustration we have to look back at what makes music (and music festivals) so great. Music festivals started with the idea of bringing people together, plain and simple. It didn’t matter where you came from, what you did, what you were outside of the festival what mattered is that you were there to share a moment with people you knew, love, or if you didn’t know any, to share a moment with everyone (sorry for the run on sentence, we got excited).

From being a public gathering, we’d make the claim that music festivals have gone private. Staying in the 305, Rolling Loud has become the largest hip-hop music festival in the world. This year marks their five year anniversary. What has changed between year one and five? Price. Five years ago at Mana you could get a ticket for $50! Now we’re looking at $400 (with no single day tickets available). Ok, ok. The festival is three days, the names are huge and the venue/times have changed. Cool. I feel you Tariq. Our question remains: Why so expensive? Why aren’t their opportunities for underprivileged individuals to go? Why aren’t their volunteer positions? Internships? Anything?

For us it comes down to accessibility. Music festivals like Ultra, Rolling Loud, and III Points have the ability to change individuals lives. Their power is across all social media outlets, locally and globally. They need to take advantage of what they have, respect the culture of music festivals, and understand, ultimately, what music is. We’re not in the 1990’s in which blacks and whites couldn’t be in the same arena. Today, we have the ability to bring all peoples together and learn, connect, and grow. Our problem with music festivals and the world is something so simple yet complex: Why can’t we be the same? Why do certain people get to experience things others can’t? And, finally, why can’t we help each other, at least locally, grow?

UMAMI’s here to bring back the reason music festivals began. Woodstock and Monterey Pop Festival, to name a few, started a legacy of what we now know as “music festivals”. We aren’t bringing back Woodstock, it’s the mantra that we’re looking for. It’s not about the money (to a certain extent), it’s not about materialism, it’s about bringing people together for the love of music, plain and simple.

* We have to say that we’re lucky enough to attend all three festivals and support the culture to the most. Yes, all three can improve but so can we! We all can. *

* We have to say that we’re lucky enough to attend all three festivals and support the culture to the most. Yes, all three can improve but so can we! We all can. *