Live events sector
Why anyone thought the partnership of rapper, a young technology ‘serial entrepreneur’, neither of whom had organised a festival before, and an unbelievable Instagram video featuring models Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski sailing on a luxury yacht and posing on beautiful beaches would result in a mind blowing festival is anyone’s guess. Spending thousands of dollars on ‘artists passes’ is an equally misguided approach to the festival scene. The fact that the elite few who made the trip to the disastrous Fyre Festival had paid anything between $1,200 to over $100,000 to the two-weekend event on Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas for the promised “once-in-a-lifetime” musical experience with beach cabanas and gourmet cuisine was almost certainly a recipe for a lawsuit. Especially when festival-goers then complained of delayed and cancelled flights, being stranded for hours without food, water or shelter, luggage being “unceremoniously dumped from shipping containers” and allegedly left for thieves to to rifle through, and a so called luxury village which consisted of refugee tents, rubbish piled high and burst water pipes.
Now a new lawsuit also alleges Fyre’s organisers warned musicians and celebrities not to attend the festival but “refused to warn attendees about the dangerous conditions awaiting them on the island”. Blink-182, who were set to be headlining, pulled out on the Thursday before. Major Lazer, Skepta and Disclosure were also set to perform. The $5m lawsuit from festival goer Daniel Jung, who has enlisted the services of celebrity trial lawyer Mark Geragos, accuses the Ja Rule (Jeffrey Atkins) and McFarland of “an outrageous failure to prepare”and the organisers being sued for fraud, negligent representation and breach of contract. Jung, of Los Angeles, bought a ticket package and airfare for $US2,000. Geragos has subsequently filed a class action which seeks an estimated $100 million in damages.
After endless social media postings from attendees who learned shortly upon arrival on the Bahamian island that the festival was cancelled and that there were no flights home or hotels to stay at, Ja Rule posted on Twitter, denying the allegation the festival was a scam while also apologising. In a letter posted on its website over the weekend, Fyre organisers said “the team was overwhelmed”. “They simply weren’t ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get”. Ja Rule also posted on social media that he was “heartbroken” saying “I truly apologise as this is not my fault… but I’m taking responsibility,” he tweeted.
Jung’s court filing goes to say “The festival’s lack of adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care created a dangerous and panicked situation among attendees – suddenly finding themselves stranded on a remote island without basic provisions – that was closer to The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies than Coachella” and alleges “The Fyre Festival was nothing more than a get-rich-quick scam from the very beginning.”
26 year old organiser McFarland said: “There wasn’t a great way to get guests in here – we were a little bit ambitious. There wasn’t water or sewage [on the Island]. It was almost like we tried building a city out of nothing and it took almost all of our personal resources to make this happen, and everything we had, to make this festival go on” and “The morning of the festival, a bad storm came in and took down half of our tents and busted water pipes” and he continued. “The weather unfortunately delayed flights and made them run into each other in terms of being close to when a lot of people were arriving. That was unfortunately something we had no control of”.
McFarland told Rolling Stone that he and his team were “a little naive.” He said that he would atone for the failure by refunding all attendees and offering them access to a free festival in the US later this year. McFarland claimed a storm late Wednesday night just as the event was about to begin destroyed much of the event’s infrastructure and delayed flights.
He said that the Fyre Festival as it was intended will re-launch in 2018, and that $1.50 of every ticket would go to the Red Cross in the Bahamas
TMZ reports that the Bahamas Ministry Of Tourism is planning to vet any future festivals a lot more strictly. It’s going to requite festival organisers to check in with the Board multiple times while planning their events. And the Board has also banned McFarland and Ja from doing any business in the island nation ever again.
A second class action was filed in the LA County Superior Court on the 2nd May, with John Girardi representing Chelsea Chinery, Shannon McAuliffe and Desiree Flores. This case accuses the Fyre Festival of breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and fraud, and criticises the event’s marketing as well as the event itself. Interestingly there is criticism of ‘social media influencers’ who made no attempt to disclose to consumers that they were being compensated for promoting the Fyre Festival. Anyone who bought tickets to the Fyre Festival is invited to join Girardi’s class action, whether or not they made it to the Island or the event itself.
And a must read here http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/04/fyre-festival-exumas-bahamas-disaster.html
An excellent update on IQ, detailing a possible third lawsuit from the The Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism here https://www.iq-mag.net/2017/05/lawyers-only-winners-fyre-festival-fallout/#.WQmwsdryuM9
And more updates and more lawsuits detailed by CMU here
And you worked for Fyre, Billy and Ja? Well, it seems you won’t be getting get paid anytime soon! Vice News reports:
“Billy McFarland, the 25-year-old founder of the disastrous Fyre Festival, told his shell-shocked employees that their paychecks covering the past two weeks would not be coming. Nor would he be firing them, a prerequisite for unemployment benefits in most states. Instead, McFarland offered to allow his dozen-or-so employees to stay on in unpaid roles, where they could work to grow the business to a place where they might get paid again.”
More here: https://news.vice.com/story/audio-fyre-festival-founders-reveal-to-employees-nobodys-getting-paid