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AEG moves to dismiss suit by ‘free rider’ Soul’d Out

The Coachella promoter seeks a swift conclusion to its legal battle with Portland's Soul'd Out Productions – as court docs reveal the extent of its disputed radius clause

By Jon Chapple on 19 Jun 2018

Coachella 2017

image © Chris Miller/Coachella

AEG has asked the US district court for Oregon to toss a competition lawsuit by Soul’d Out Productions, saying the Oregon promoter seeks to piggyback on the success of its Coachella festival by disputing the latter’s controversial ‘radius clause’.

Soul’d Out, which organises Portland’s Soul’d Out Music Festival, sued AEG in April on competition grounds, arguing Coachella’s radius clause – a contractual restriction that prevents acts on the festival’s bill from playing at “any other festival or themed event within a distance that extends over 1,300 miles” – amounts to anti-competitive behaviour on the part of organisers, and unfairly targets other, smaller festivals.

At the time, AEG suggested the lawsuit was frivolous, arguing that radius clauses are “an industry standard used by festival, concert and tour promoters designed to protect the integrity and exclusivity of their events”.

In its motion to dismiss, filed on Friday, AEG argued that Soul’d Out’s complaint alleges that Coachella intentionally interfered with its business by strong-arming its acts into accepting the clause – something that cannot be the case because, of the three acts Soul’d Out claims to have lost, two of the three had already agreed to play Coachella by the time they were approached by Soul’d Out.

Additionally, AEG argues, as the radius clause applies to almost every act playing Coachella, Soul’d Out cannot claim it was specifically targeted by the clause.

“Soul’d Out’s true gripe with the radius clause is that it prevents plaintiff from free riding on the popularity of Coachella

Soul’d Out 2018 (15,000-cap.) was headlined by De La Soul, Wyclef Jean and Erykah Badu. It is unclear which three acts were ‘lost’ to Coachella.

As spotted by Amplify, the documents also reveal that, contrary to the previously reported 1,300-mile figure, the radius clause actually extends to any festival in North America from 15 December to 1 May. (Coachella takes place in mid-April.) Coachella artists are also not permitted play any ‘hard ticket concerts’ in southern California – nor announce other festival appearances in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington or Arizona (the 1,300-mile radius) – during that period.

Additionally, clause-bound acts are forbidden announce festival appearances in any of the other 45 US states until after the Coachella line-up is announced in January (with the exception of South by Southwest, EDM event Ultra Miami and AEG’s New Orleans Jazzfest).

Imploring judge Michael Mosman to dismiss, AEG’s lawyers, Justin Bernick of Hogan Lovells and Casey Nokes of Cable Huston, argue: “[Soul’d Out]’s true gripe with the radius clause is that it prevents plaintiff from free riding on the popularity of Coachella and the investment AEG has made in developing its artist line-up and ensuring those artists play at Coachella.

“It is more than reasonable for AEG to take steps to prevent this type of free riding from taking place.”


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