Virgin founder Branson and CEO Felts announce Virgin Fest, which debuts in Los Angeles in summer 2020, on the 50th anniversary of the Virgin brand
Sign up for IQ Index
The latest industry news to your inbox.
Virgin Fest has filed a lawsuit against WME and the touring companies of Lizzo, Ellie Goulding and Kali Uchis, demanding deposits paid prior to the event be returned
By IQ on 21 Jul 2020
The organisers of Virgin Fest, which was set to have its debut outing this June, have filed a lawsuit against agency William Morris Endeavor (WME) and artists Lizzo, Kali Uchis and Ellie Goulding, in an attempt to recover deposits from the event’s cancelled 2020 edition.
The acts had all been scheduled to play in the festival at the Banc of California Stadium (22,000-cap.) and Exposition Park (160-acre) in Los Angeles on 6 and 7 June before it was cancelled – along with the vast majority of this year’s event calendar – due to the coronavirus pandemic.
VFLA Eventco LLC – Virgin Fest’s organiser and the music festival arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group – has now levied a complaint against WME, as well as Ellie Goulding’s Starry US Touring, Lizzo’s Big Grrrl Big Touring and Kali Uchis Touring, saying the parties had agreed to return deposits in the event of cancellation due to “an uncontrollable factor”.
“After the government prevented the festival from proceeding, VFLA invoked the force majeure provision and demanded the return in full of the prepaid deposits”
According to VFLA, all other agencies have returned, or agreed to return, the full amount of the prepaid deposits for the performances, but WME argues that deposits do not need to be returned as the artists were “otherwise ready, willing and able to perform.”
“[WME] refused to return the deposits and insisted that the artists it represents are entitled to keep the deposits — even if the Covid-19 pandemic constituted a force majeure event, even if the governmental orders prevented the festival from proceeding, and even if those orders likewise made it unlawful for their artists to perform on the dates and at the times and places specified in their agreements with VFLA,” reads the complaint, as published by Law 360.
“After the government prevented the festival from proceeding, VFLA invoked the force majeure provision of the artists’ performance agreements and demanded the return in full of the prepaid deposits made in connection with those agreements.”
VFLA is seeking a court order forcing WME to return the deposit money, as well as damages. From the three touring companies, the Virgin fest organiser wants additional damages for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
IQ has contacted WME for comment.
Photo: Andy Witchger/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.