The first Detroit Electronic Music Festival was held in 2000, established by Carol Marvin and her company Pop Culture Media. Marvin had previously been a sponsorship organizer for the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival and Detroit-Montreux Jazz Festival, and was a producer of the 1993 Michigan State Fair.
The DEMF was intended to give Detroit and its overlooked history of electronic music major exposure both locally and nationally. Carl Craig, hired by Carol Marvin to act as "Artistic Director", booked a diverse range of the talent, from big internationally recognized names to lesser-known local talent. Patterned on high-profile dance music festivals in Europe, the DEMF had free admission and attracted many 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 acknowledgment and celebration of the city as the birthplace of techno music.
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 an injection of youthful energy into the 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. City officials and others including media observers and local businesses saw the apparent economic boost to the city, with the Visitors and Convention Bureau stating that in only its second year, the event had pumped over $90 million into the local economy.
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 Carol Marvin fired Craig for not fulfilling the terms of his contract. While many of the music fans were upset at his dismissal, many industry insiders understood that though he was a great artist, Craig did not have the business savvy needed to fulfill his contractual obligations. Craig lost two lawsuits against Marvin, with the courts deciding that Marvin was justified in terminating Craig. While Craig insisted he was a "founder" of the event, court documents proved that he was, in fact, hired by Marvin as an employee, and that he was negligent in performing his duties. As new producers handled the festival, media began to question the validity of attendance figures and financial gain. Subsequent producers of the event, Derrick May (Movement) and Kevin Saunderson (Fuse-In), did not deliver the same results that Marvin had, and lost thousands of dollars.
In January 2003, city officials decided to place the event in the hands of popular techno artist Derrick May, who had extensive experience as a touring DJ but no firsthand, large-scale festival production experience.
The second Movement festival took place in 2004, but despite its public success, the event faced significant financial losses and its fate became uncertain
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 (later shortened to just Fuse-In, with the tagline "Detroit's Electronic Movement") 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.
On February 16, 2006, Kevin Saunderson announced that due to financial losses and lack of sufficient promotion, he would not continue to produce the festival in 2006. As of March 23, the city has chosen Paxahau of Ferndale, MI, a suburban Detroit-based electronic record label and booking agency, to produce the festival under the name "Movement, Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival." According to Paxahau their selection has been supported by Saunderson, May, and Craig. Though none but May's endorsement has been confirmed. Conspicuously, techno creator/originator Juan Atkins has yet to give a statement regarding the festival.
The Festival happened again in 2006 and 2007 and was successful enough that it is already confirmed to occur again in 2008.
2006 Lineup included
2007 Lineup included
The 2008 lineup announced was as follows:
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:
* Based on visual estimates by police and city officials, and conceded by city officials in 2003 to be an overly generous estimate..