Detroit Electronic Music Festival

The Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) was a successful electronic dance music showcase held in Detroit each Memorial Day weekend from 2000 to 2002. In subsequent years, the festivals Movement (20032004) and Fuse-In Detroit (2005–) continued the DEMF's traditions, with each name change reflecting shifts in festival management. All of these festivals featured performances by musicians and DJs, and emphasized the progressive qualities of the culture surrounding electronic music.



The DEMF was founded and produced by Pop Culture Media (PCM) under the command of firm president Carol Marvin, a former sponsorship organizer for the Detroit-Montreux Jazz Festival. Programming and artistic direction was contracted to Detroiter Carl Craig, an internationally acclaimed techno DJ and recording artist.

Patterned on high-profile dance music festivals in Europe, the DEMF had free admission and attracted a substantial number of international attendees. Each festival has been held at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit, and has been sanctioned and financially supported by the City of Detroit. The city's support for the festival has been seen by many as the first high-profile acknowledgement and celebration of the city as the birthplace of techno music.

2000: Successful launch

The first festival occurred in May 2000 and concluded with few hitches and no reported crime. It was applauded by city leaders and tourism officials as a vital injection of youthful energy into the aged city.

Attendance at the first DEMF surpassed expectations, with estimates over the three-day run surpassing one million visitors. Subsequent festivals drew even bigger crowds. However, city officials and others — including media observers and local businesses that saw little economic boost — disputed the attendance figures[1] (, leading to more conservative estimates in 2003 and beyond. In spite of the downgraded attendance figures, the DEMF is still the biggest annual music event in Detroit, and is the biggest electronic music festival in the United States.

2001–2002: DEMF growth and controversy

In the festival's second year and beyond, there was a veritable explosion of techno music events around Detroit, with many independently organized and impromptu parties packing area clubs and makeshift venues early into each morning.

Controversy ensued when Carl Craig was fired days before the 2001 DEMF amid a budgeting and deadline dispute. During the 2001 and 2002 festivals, many attendees galvanized support for Craig[2] (, while Marvin came under increasing fire from fans who believed Craig had been unfairly dismissed.[3] (

2003–2004: Movement

In January 2003, city officials turned down Pop Culture Media's request to renew its contract for Hart Plaza, and instead awarded Memorial Day weekend control to Detroit techno musician Derrick May. Pop Culture Media then announced plans to organize festivals in Detroit and elsewhere under the DEMF trademark, though by 2005 no events had yet taken place.

With the DEMF name trademarked by Pop Culture Media, May dubbed the 2003 festival Movement.
Missing image
Fans catch a groove at Movement. Detroit, May 2003. (Movement publicity photo.)
Movement received largely positive reviews from fans and critics, and attracted crowds that appeared on par with the previous DEMFs.

The second Movement festival took place in 2004, but despite its public success, the event faced significant financial losses and its fate became uncertain[4] (

2005: Fuse-In Detroit

In February 2005, May announced his resignation as festival producer, and the festival once again changed hands. Fellow techno veteran Kevin Saunderson announced plans for a Movement replacement to be called Fuse-In Detroit, to be staged Memorial Day Weekend 2005.

Successful negotiations with city officials led to 2005 becoming the first year that an event in Hart Plaza did not have free admission. A total of 41,220 admission passes were sold to Fuse-In visitors. 38,382 daily passes were sold for $10 each, and 2,838 weekend passes, covering the full three days, were sold for $25 each. The City of Detroit collected $1 per pass, and was to have collected 30% of festival profits, but admission pass sales did not recoup the festival's $756,000 budget. [5] (


Historically, attendance of events held in Hart Plaza has often been reported as being well in excess of the 14-acre venue's capacity of 40,000 people, even when crowds were counted by police and city officials. The reported attendance estimates for the electronic music festival were as follows:

  • DEMF 2000: 1.1 to 1.5 million *
  • DEMF 2001: 1.7 million *
  • DEMF 2002: 1.7 million *
  • Movement 2003: 630,000
  • Movement 2004: 150,000 **
  • Fuse-In Detroit 2005: TBD

* Based on visual estimates by police and city officials, and conceded by city officials in 2003 to be an overly generous estimate.

** Reported by police on May 30, 2005. [6] (

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