Made in America Returns to Philadelphia for Sixth Year


Coldplay performs during the 2016 Made in America festival.

Cassie McHugh '20

Got Labor Day plans? You do now.

Made in America, the popular, Jay-Z curated music festival, returns to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia on Sep. 2 and 3.

Music festivals have experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years thanks to the millennial generation. Nearly every major city around the world now plays host to at least one such event each year.

Fans might come initially for the live music, but they come back year after year for the experience—the surprise appearances, collaborations between featured artists and unique setlists that differ from artists’ typical tours. It’s what justifies the multi-day ticket packages that often cost several hundred dollars not to mention the $12 burgers and $4 water bottles that are typical of festival settings.

Still, in a market oversaturated with options, music festivals need unique elements to attract fans.

Made in America is unique in that its lineup is handpicked by one of the most well-known artists in today’s music industry. Each artist on the two-day lineup has been given Jay-Z’s seal of approval. Some acts are widely popular—this year’s headliners include Jay-Z himself, rapper J. Cole and DJ duo The Chainsmokers. Many of the featured artists fall under the genre categories of rap and hip-hop, which helps to make the festival distinctive in a world of predominately pop and EDM-based festivals.

While Made in America certainly draws big names, Jay-Z seems well aware of the valuable platform he can provide for virtually unknown artists. In 2015 the festival announced a ‘Tidal Stage,’ named after Jay-Z’s music-streaming service, to serve as a platform for new artists. Additionally, other rising artists are given the opportunity to perform on the larger stages during the early hours of the day. This year, artists like Lizzo, Nick Grant, Ari Lennox and the band A R I Z O N A will all take the stage in hopes of reaching new listeners.

Jay-Z seems to have a knack for seeing talent before mainstream America can. Just two years ago, an up-and-coming singer known as Halsey played the main stage during the unpopular, underpopulated first slot at the beginning of the festival’s second day. This past June her sophomore album debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

Made in America’s setting also helps it to stand out from other festivals. Its location along the Ben Franklin Parkway, with the main stage set up at the foot of the famous Philadelphia Art Museum ‘Rocky’ steps, is unique from most festivals which are typically located in deserts, at racetracks, or at other ‘festival grounds’ outside of city limits.

Like many of Jay-Z’s endeavors, Made in America has been widely successful. This will be the festival’s sixth year and the eyes of the music industry are sure to be trained on Philadelphia to see what’s in store.

Follow The Villanovan on Instagram and Twitter for live festival updates and look for our coverage in the first print issue of the 2017-2018 school year coming September 7.