The Made In America festival is an annual, two-day music and arts festival held at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during Labor Day weekend. It’s become one of the most anticipated festival experiences over the last few years, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down after a $10-million economic impact on the city.
Produced by Live Nation, the event features several stages boasting musical talent across genres. Of those stages, the TIDAL stage is arguably one of the more prestigious — not because it’s a main stage where international superstars are performing, but because it’s where you can catch the rising artists who will turn into headlining superstars in a few short years.
Jason Kpana and Toshi Kondo of TIDAL’s Artist Relations team play a huge role in curating memorable experiences with budding artists through the TIDAL platform. CASSIUS spoke with both curators for an inside scoop on the ins and outs of developing the TIDAL stage.
“Everything that we do begins with TIDAL Rising. It’s a space on TIDAL where we promote rising artists on a weekly bases. By the time we’re talking about Made In America we’ve already spoken with that artist and their team because we already were featuring them on the playlist. It makes things easier because there’s already been relationship building through the platform. When it comes to relationship building it’s our daily job. The artist relations team is always trying to elevate the artist community and engage with our members.” – Jason Kpana
“Collectively, we put a lot of thought into the sounds,” Jason tells CASSIUS. “Who sounds better next to who? Knowing where artists are in their career. The stage is usually filled with emerging artists but have included majors, too. We do take into consideration artist requests regarding availability. A lot of things come into play for a two-day festival. We definitely want fans to be able to discover artists they may not expect. It’s not easy, but we try our best to make sure the time slots make sense.”
You obviously don’t pull off a festival stage without an extreme amount of logistical planning. As two people on a huge team, Jason and Toshi spend months building Made In America’s TIDAL stage. During the planning period, the entire TIDAL team sends suggestions for artists. As a collective, they go through those suggestions and predict which artists will be relevant by the summer. Once it’s showtime, a million and one things must be managed at once. According to Toshi, plenty of elements are simultaneously at play, including stage background technicalities, artist bands, meet and greets, social media asks, and more.
In a festival environment, expecting the unexpected is a job requirement. What would you do if an artists as big as Lil Yachty was caught in traffic and running late to a stage with a huge audience waiting in the summer heat? What if Nick Grant’s flight got canceled, his set time had to be changed to a different day, and the crowd was emptier than usual because no one was expecting him? You roll with the punches, that’s what you do.
Toshi shared both incidents with a humble tone of pride that comes from knowing your team can handle anything. While Yachty ran late, the crowd chanted his name and completely spazzed when he touched the stage. All Nick Grant had to do was start spitting, and what started off as a light crowd turned into a sea of fans rapping along. Both situations turned into standout moments for rappers who have grown into well-known and respected artists.
“Jidenna was one of the first performances to really set us off. One of the things I love that we’ve been able to do is expand and include global artists like Davido. Another memorable performance was 2 years ago when Stormzy performed. It had been pouring all day and his fans still came out. When he left the stage he said that was one of the best performances in a long time. It’s also nice to see emerging artists who performed on our stage moving on to do larger stages such as Juiceworld and Jorja Smith. Two years ago Ari Lennox opened our stage.” – Toshi Kondo
What makes the TIDAL stage standout from other Made In America stages? According to, Jason it’s the full-on TIDAL experience.
“The number one thing that makes our stage standout is that you get a whole experience,” he shares. “As a TIDAL member, you get to skip lines to get into the festival first. One of the first stages you see is the TIDAL Stage, then you can go into the lounge where you get air conditioning, phone chargers, and meet and greets. It’s all a part of the experience that surrounds our stage. You’re getting a full-on experience you can’t get anywhere else. It’s an overall 360 experience you’re getting as a member. “
What fans can expect at this year’s festival? More exposure to artists and music that they’ll want to follow moving forward. TIDAL wants to give you access to artists you want to hold onto for the rest of their careers.
Tidal will be live streaming the festival on TIDAL.com/MIA come August 31 & September 1.