WME freed from Virgin Fest lawsuit over artist deposits
WME has been freed from Virgin Fest Los Angeles’ lawsuit seeking to recover prepaid deposits from the event’s cancelled 2020 edition.
VFLA Eventco LLC – Virgin Fest’s organiser and the music festival arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group – filed a lawsuit against the agency in July 2020, as well as artists Lizzo, Ellie Goulding and Kali Uchis, saying the parties had agreed to return deposits in the event of cancellation due to “an uncontrollable factor”.
The acts had been scheduled to play the debut outing of the festival at the Banc of California Stadium (22,000-cap.) and Exposition Park (160-acre) in LA on 6 and 7 June 2020 before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
VFLA argued that because the government prevented the festival from proceeding, the artists were obliged to return monies they had been advanced when they were booked to play.
The judge did allow a breach of contract claim to move forward against the artists’ touring companies
However, Lizzo, Goulding and their agents argued that they could keep those payments because they were still “ready, willing and able to perform”, despite the festival being called off. Uchis’ company did not file a demurrer but did file a notice of joinder to the other defendants’ demurrers.
According to VFLA, all other agencies have returned, or agreed to return, the full amount of the prepaid deposits for the performances.
On Friday (12 March), at the LA Superior Court, Judge Mark H. Epstein issued an order that said the agreements the parties signed protected WME from being sued for what is essentially a dispute between the artists and the promoter.
According to Law360, Epstein said the court “agrees with the plaintiff that the contract does not protect WME from liability for its own wrongs. It only protects WME from being sued for what is essentially a dispute between the artists and the promoter. But that is essentially what is at issue here.”
The judge did allow a breach of contract claim to move forward against the artists’ touring companies and also said that VFLA can amend its complaint against WME, which the agency objected to.
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ICM Partners wins Celine Dion legal battle
Major US agency ICM Partners has won a legal battle over unpaid commissions from a deal negotiated and procured for former client Celine Dion with AEG.
The superstar signed a $500 million multi-year touring and performing contract with AEG in 2017 but was dropped by her representative of over 30 years Rob Prinz (ICM partner and co-head of worldwide concerts) in 2019 after failing to pay commission.
ICM sued the singer to receive the unpaid funds and the company announced on Wednesday (18 November) that the California labour commissioner ruled in its favour, upholding the terms of the contract even after the representation has ended.
The ruling states: “Although the Omnibus Agreement (Dion’s agreement with AEG negotiated by ICM and Prinz) is valued at a staggering half a billion dollars, the labour commissioner has dealt with similar matters, albeit not in this monetary range.
“In similar fact patterns, we have consistently applied the rule stating. [A] talent agency is generally entitled to receive post-termination commissions for all employment secured by the agency prior to its termination.”
“[The ruling] unequivocally confirmed ICM’s and Rob Prinz’s right to commission an extremely lucrative deal”
The labour commissioner cited fellow cases, including ICM Partners v James Bates, Paradigm Talent Agency v Charles Carroll and Endeavor Agency v Alyssa Milano, in the decision.
“Further, [c]ommissions are owed post termination for monies negotiated by the agent during the term of the agreement and the artist cannot unilaterally determine there is no further obligation to pay for work already performed.”
Patricia Glaser, litigation counsel for ICM Partners says: “We are very pleased that the labour commissioner listened to the testimony of numerous witnesses over several days and reviewed a significant number of documents before issuing a very thoughtful 32-page opinion which unequivocally confirmed ICM’s and Rob Prinz’s right to commission an extremely lucrative deal which they were instrumental in negotiating and procuring.”
Rick Levy, general counsel, ICM Partners says: “This ruling leaves no doubt that Rob Prinz and ICM not only had a legally enforceable agreement to commission Ms Dion’s AEG deal, but that, throughout her brilliant career, Rob represented her in an exemplary manner, culminating in an unprecedented touring and residency contract.
“As the labour commissioner found, agents have every right to be paid for the work they do for their clients, especially where, as here, Rob’s more than two decades of hard work resulted in raising her compensation to dizzying new levels.”
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UK club owner to legally challenge gov’s 10pm curfew
Jeremy Joseph, the owner of London nightclub G-A-Y, has hired leading barristers from Kings Chambers and Simpson Miller Solicitors to challenge the government’s decision to implement a national curfew of 10 pm on hospitality premises.
The 10 pm curfew came into effect on 24 September and has reportedly caused a “catastrophic” drop in trade for businesses, believed to be solely due to the implementation of the new restrictions, according to a recent survey.
The pre-action protocol for judicial review saw the legal team, which is supported by G-A-Y’s longstanding legal and business affairs advisor and Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), write to the secretary of state, Matt Hancock at the department of health and social care with a formal challenge to the health protection which was amended to include the new curfew.
“The 10 pm curfew, which has now been in place for the last two weeks and has been detrimental to the hospitality sector including G-A-Y, makes absolutely no sense,” says Joseph.
“It does the opposite of protecting people by pushing them onto the street at the same time. They are going from being safe inside venues with staggered closing times to unsafe on overcrowded streets and overloaded public transport.
“This government has failed to show why the 10 pm curfew was put in place and has published no scientific evidence to substantiate its implementation.
“This gov has failed to show why the curfew was put in place and has published no scientific evidence to substantiate its implementation”
“It seems to direct the blame for this action on the sector, consistently treating the night-time economy as a scapegoat when, in fact, we have years of operational experience of keeping customers safe, and have spent substantial time and effort making sure our venues are Covid secure.
“Enough is Enough. Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson have to be made accountable and today we have instructed our legal team with the support of the NTIA to serve the government with a pre-action protocol for judicial review to challenge the decision to implement the national curfew of 10 pm on the hospitality sector.”
Dan Rosenberg, partner at Simpson Miller, said: “Our clients are well aware of the need to prioritise the health of the public and are supportive of any measures that help control the virus. Ultimately, their businesses in the long term depend upon the virus being brought under control.”
“However, while they have been supportive of other decisions made by government, including in relation to social distancing and other measures to protect the safety of their patrons, they fail to see the logic behind the arbitrary decision for all venues to close at 10 pm.”
The new restrictions affect businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants) – along with social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls.
Concert venues and theatres are permitted to stay open past the 10 pm curfew, though only if the performance has already started.
In addition, the new £10,000 fines for those who breach social distancing legislation will be extended from individuals to businesses.
Italian watchdog ordered to repay €1m to TicketOne
The Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) has been ordered to return €1 million to TicketOne, as well as refund all legal expenses, after an Italian court rejected earlier claims by AGCM the company had not done enough to prevent the resale of its tickets on the secondary market.
TicketOne, owned by Germany’s CTS Eventim, was fined €1m last April for allegedly failing to take adequate measures to prevent tickets getting into the hands of touts. The competition watchdog found that while that while TicketOne is “contractually bound to adopt anti-touting measures, [it] did not take appropriate steps to prevent bulk buying through specialist software, nor has it tried to limit multiple purchases or set up a system of ex-post controls to cancel them”.
Four secondary ticketing sites – Viagogo, MyWayTicket, Live Nation’s Seatwave and eBay/StubHub’s Ticketbis – were additionally hit with a collective €700,000 fine for their failure to provide complete ticket information to customers.
However, in a ruling on Friday (2 March), the regional administrative court of Lazio, sided with TicketOne’s argument that it has “always operated with utmost care and diligence, and that its business conduct did not favour the secondary market”, and ordered AGCM to refund the the €1m, along with its legal costs.
“The ruling underlines that our company has always operated with transparency and professionalism”
“We have always distanced ourselves from unlawful and speculative business practices that occur within the secondary ticketing market,” says Stefano Lionetti, CEO of TicketOne. “Therefore, we are very satisfied that the court confirmed that the allegations made against us were wrongful.
“Over and above, the ruling underlines that our company has always operated with transparency and professionalism.”
While TicketOne says it already has “high security standards in place” to prevent automated software, or bots, from bulk-buying its tickets, it has announce plans to “expand on its efforts” against speculative ticket resale. The company “asks fans and concertgoers not to purchase tickets from secondary market sites and to only make use of licensed ticket sellers and official dealers.”
TicketOne parent company CTS Eventim has been investing heavily in Italy recently, last month making its third acquisition – of promoter Di and Gi – in five months.
Public falling out for Viagogo and SFX
Viagogo is seeking permission to open legal proceedings against SFX Entertainment for claims “in excess” of US$1.6 million.
The two companies signed a five-year, $75m sponsorship agreement in 2014, granting Viagogo exclusive ticket resale rights to no less than 50 SFX-promoted events. In exchange, SFX agreed to “deliver exclusive marketing and ticketing rights with respect to a number of designated ‘major’ SFX events”, says a new filing in the Delaware bankruptcy court, “which the parties deemed to be the SFX events that provided the most financial opportunities for Viagogo”.
However, says Viagogo, SFX “breached various material provisions of the agreement, some of which are not curable, including, among other things, the cancelling of certain major events” (likely including TomorrowWorld and Stereosonic).
“SFX breached various material provisions of the agreement, including the cancelling of certain major events”
“Likewise,” it adds, “SFX has alleged breaches of the agreement on the part of Viagogo. During the parties’ correspondence over the past two years, both parties have disagreed with each other’s position while at the same time attempting to reach an amicable resolution.”
To date no such amicable resolution has been reached, and Viagogo is seeking over $1.6m from SFX for breaching said sponsorship deal. No claims, however, can be paid out while SFX is in bankruptcy protection, so the secondary ticketing site is asking for “limited relief from the automatic stay” (an injunction that bars creditors from collecting debts from a bankrupt debtor) while SFX – reportedly soon to be under the leadership of ex-AEG Live chief Randy Phillips – draws up a new rescue plan minus outgoing CEO Robert FX Sillerman.
Viagogo’s motion will be heard by the court on 30 August.
Investigation into takeover of ‘undervalued’ Cvent
The takeover of event-management software developer Cvent is under investigation over potential wrongdoing.
Cvent, which develops software for event planners, including solutions for online event registration, venue selection and event marketing, was acquired by private-equity firm Vista Equity Partners on 18 April for US$30 per share, or about US$1.65 billion.
Cvent stockholders will receive $36.00 in cash per share.
Many market analysts see this figure as being too low – one predicted a high target price for Cvent stock (CVT) of $43 per share, and Cvent shares traded in the open market as high as $37.25 per share on 8 December 2015 – leading one law firm to launch a formal investigation into whether the offer from Vista gives Cvent shareholders a fair return.
The investigation will centre on the unnamed law firm will investigate whether Cvent’s board maximised shareholder value by negotiating the best price and acted in the shareholders’ best interests in connection with the proposed sale
More specifically, the unnamed law firm will investigate whether Cvent’s board of directors undertook “an adequate sales process, adequately shopped the company before entering into the transaction, maximised shareholder value by negotiating the best price and acted in the shareholders’ best interests in connection with the proposed sale”.
The $36 offered is, however, a 69 per cent premium over the company’s closing price of $21.30 on the trading day prior to the acquisition, Friday 15 April.
Earlier this week Cvent CEO Reggie Aggarwal said his company stood to benefit greatly from the acquisition. “With Vista’s financial strength to invest in Cvent now and in the future, we will be better positioned to deliver innovative solutions that transform the meetings and events industry, and to offer employees new opportunities for career growth,” he commented.
Foundations looking shaky for Angus Festival of House
Police and council chiefs have recommended that Scotland’s newest dance music event, Festival of House, not be allowed to go ahead.
Angus Council, which governs the county of the same name, has advised councillors to refuse the festival’s application for a public entertainment licence when it goes before its Civic Licensing Committee on Friday amid concerns of a lack of proper planning.
Promoter Jigsaw Events and Management has booked Rudimental, Underworld, Leftfield, Erok Alkan and Dubfire for the festival and hopes to attract around 15,000 people to Panmure Estate on Pitlivie Farm, near Carnoustie in Angus, on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 June.
A statement from the council criticises Jigsaw for “significant gaps, conflicting information and inconsistencies which provide no confidence that the plans provide the foundation for the delivery of a professionally managed, safe event”, and says plans “remain of a standard that is well below what would be expected”.
Festival of House’s management structure came in for particular criticism, with council safety officers describing it as “incoherent”
Festival of House’s management structure came in for particular criticism, with council safety officers describing it as “incoherent” in terms of roles and decision making responsibilities, as did its “unworkable” traffic-management plan.
Additionally, Police Scotland’s Superintendent Graeme Murdoch has stated that the service could not support the event as it stands currently. “Safety is always the paramount and overriding consideration,” he comments. “Police Scotland concludes this proposed event cannot be delivered safely.”
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service also has a “number of concerns”.
However, festival director Craig Blyth remains upbeat, revealing that all letters and emails of support have been submitted along with Festival of House’s licensing application. “Both objections and support are all relevant and help licensing board members understand the full picture across the area,” he says. “All crowd-management and alcohol-management plans are being progressed in a timely manner agreed with Angus Council.”
Finsbury Park residents’ group launches Wireless legal challenge
The Friends of Finsbury Park has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for its legal challenge to stop this year’s Wireless Festival.
The residents’ association is following through with the legal action it threatened against Haringey Council after the council gave permission to Festival Republic/Live Nation to stage the festival in Finsbury Park, north London, for the third time from 8 to 10 July.
As of midday today the Say No to Wireless in Finsbury Park campaign has raised £2,165 from 20 backers (of a goal of £5,000) on the CrowdJustice website.
The Friends of Finsbury Park believes, “after reviewing the relevant legislation”, that “Haringey Council does not have the power to hold Wireless Festival” in the grade II-listed public park, which is classed as Metropolitan Open Land.
The group says the 110-acre (46ha) park is too small for the festival, which has a daily capacity of 49,000, and that “the outcome of this case could affect all London parks, as councils seek to sell off and privatise green spaces. The argument that huge commercial events such as Wireless Festival must take place in order to maintain a public space is deeply disturbing and cannot be allowed to happen.”
Finsbury Park has a long history of hosting live music, with notable performances including Bob Dylan on his Never Ending European tour in 1993, the Sex Pistols’ 1996 comeback concert, Oasis on their Heathen Chemistry tour in 2002 and The Stone Roses’ reunion tour in 2013. It was also the location for Mean Fiddler’s Fleadh Festival from 1990 to 2003 and Rise Festival from 2006 to 2009.
Calvin Harris, Chase & Status and Kygo will headline Wireless 2016.
Love Parade accused won’t stand trial
Ten people charged over the Love Parade disaster in 2010 will not stand trial after a German court ruled the case against them lacked sufficient strength.
Four employees of event promoter Lopavent and six of the city of Duisburg were indicted two years ago on charges including involuntary manslaughter and bodily harm and accused of failing to follow proper security procedures.
The state court in Duisburg, however, ruled earlier today that “an exhaustive examination” of the prosecution’s case and evidence “has shown that there is no sufficient case to answer”, reports AP.
“The state’s accusations could not be proved with the evidence presented. Hence a conviction of the accused could not be expected”
In a statement issued after dismissing the charges, the court said: “The state’s accusations could not be proved with the evidence presented. Hence a conviction of the accused could not be expected.”
Prosecutors have filed an appeal, which will now be considered by a higher court in Dusseldorf.
Julius Reiter, who represents around 100 people, including the relatives of four people who died in the disaster, told news agency DPA the decision is a “judicial scandal”, adding that “they [the victims’ families] have been fobbed off for years with the statement that thoroughness comes before speed”.
Twenty-one people died and over 500 were injured on 24 July 2010 in a crush in a tunnel that served as the sole entrance to the now-defunct dance music festival. Over a million people attended the 2010 event, which was held at a former goods yard with a capacity of around 250,000.