by Dan Gibson
Nice to see a mainstream (well, as much in the mainstream as Salon is, I guess) news outlet allow the anti-1070-but-also-anti-boycott side of the story be told:
And you think this boycott is happening specifically in Arizona not just because of the publicity around the state, but for financial reasons as well?
As a talent-buyer for an Arizona venue, what gets to me is — yes, Arizona put out a horrible piece of legislation. But as everyone knows, it's now been joined by the federal courts and the Ninth Circuit ruling. But it seems to me that Arizona is an easy state to boycott, because we only have two major markets: Phoenix and Tucson. It's just not a very important place for a lot of these mid-size artists that are on that Sound Strike list, and they can afford to give up gigs here to be part of this boycott.
What seemed obvious to me for quite a while is that this boycott isn't effective because it punishes us as a non-profit, it punishes the fans that don't get to see them, but it has no effect on the larger tourism industry or big business in the state. The boycott of the convention and tourism business in Arizona is costing millions of dollars of losses, and that is quantifiable. But I'm sure if Jan Brewer or [Arizona State Senator] Russell Pearce had even heard of Sound Strike, they'd be happy these artists who oppose their legislation are staying away and not coming here to oppose them with the platform afforded to musicians.
The state of Texas also has really messed up immigration laws, but no one is going to boycott Texas, because it is too important to them financially to play in San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Houston. No one is going to stop playing in Los Angeles either, despite their drafting of a similar bill.
And the really ironic thing to me is that LiveNation, the biggest corporate music promoter in the world, put on a concert by Rage Against the Machine and other groups participating in the boycott in Los Angeles. We were telling these artists before the 2010 election, "Come here, help register voters, we need you." If they had come and helped register young people, Hispanic people with their message during that critical election, they could have made a difference. But they didn't do that. They held their rally and event in Los Angeles in conjunction with a giant corporation that has more stake in keeping tourism alive here — that actually is more in line with working to help Arizona's lawmakers — than opposing them.
Our state Attorney General is Tom Horne, a rabid right-winger (and the main supporter of a bill to ban ethnic studies in Arizona schools). He won by about 4 percentage points. So if these bands could have come and helped us get the word out about voting, had hit those youth demographics and helped get 5,000 to 10,000 extra votes, things might have turned out much differently for our state.