This past weekend, while many were partying at Electric Zoo and North Coast Music Festival, there was a festival disaster taking place in Jacksonville, Florida. Electric Sun Festival, which touted a lineup including Tiesto, 12th Planet, Robbie Rivera, Downlink and more crashed, burned, and cancelled it’s Day 2 events without refunding or notifying ticket holders of the cancellation. Matt Richardson of Redline Entertainment Group left nothing but a sign in the parking lot with his number, which many said wasn’t answered.
1.) Poor Business Practices
The question is, what the hell happened? Tiesto made an announcement through facebook and twitter that he would not be playing on day one of the event due to his contract not being fulfilled. Tiesto’s booking agency found there were also issues with their other artists, including pay and riders. They were quick to pull the rest of their talent from the festival. According to a credible source ( Hope Lansing w/ Uproar Events) who worked behind the scenes of the festival, Redline Entertainment claimed Tiesto was one of the few artists who had been paid in full. However he was the first to cancel. Some artists featured were never even told that they were suppose to play. For example, South Rakkas Crew tweeted:
“They hoped to pay for the artists with ticket sales and investors and it all backfired,” Lansing said.
Financial contracts with performers were not the only agreements left unpaid. The venue, the Morrocco Shrine Center, was never paid nor were those in charge of lighting and stage construction. Tarver Shelton said he drove from Alabama to put up the stage. The promoter owes him about $600 (via First Coast News). The event’s facebook page claimed that there would be 5 stages but guests arrived to only 1 stage, a harsh letdown to fans already disappointed with cancellations. It wasn’t just the fans who were let down by this, regional talents who were originally scheduled to perform were unable to take to stages that were never constructed.
As artists were pulled from the lineup, customers were never notified. Unless customers found the cancelations through the artists themselves, there was no telling that any artist had been dropped from the lineup. The first sign of the festival being canceled was also the only sign, as displayed out front of the venue.
The inability to fulfill artist contracts as well as notifying ticket holder’s of the cancellations is a direct reflections of poor business practice. The event page on facebook was taken down immediately following the cancellation as well.
2.) Poor Promotion & Planning
Those who are entwined within the scene of Jacksonville said this was a flop from the beginning. Anyone with any common sense would understand the importance of positively promoting an EDM event of this size in Jacksonville. A local correspondent of ours who is an avid electronic dance music fan, and Jacksonville resident had this to say:
The promoters that threw it were literally a bunch of guys nobody here has ever heard of. When they first created the event I spent 3 weeks unsure if it was even real, and there wasn’t even a website for it till maybe 3 weeks ago. It was ONLY on Facebook, and it reminded me of an event page created by a highschool kid planning his inevitably busted “PROJECT X SUPER PARTY,” with 9,999 invites. There was nobody talking about it, which is unusual considering the lineup even despite how Jacksonville isn’t really an urban market. They were so desperate they were offering all sorts of ticket deals by the end, but it was so poorly managed that it didn’t matter.
When “nobody was talking about it,” there was really “nobody talking about it. According to Lansing, “Anyone who even said the word refund at the festival was escorted out by the cops.” Any post on the event’s facebook page that did not bring positive light to the event was quickly deleted.
What else is there to be said for a festival with Tiesto headlining that couldn’t make the cut and lacked the necessary attendance? Sure, the lineup had plenty of holes and was not premiere from top to bottom by any means, but really? Tiesto’s contract required that 5k tickets be sold to the event in order for him to attend. Less than 2K presale tickets were sold. The venue was touted as having a capacity of 10K. This lack of attendance eventually led to turnover failure, and consequently the dominoes crashed down until the lineup was a barren wasteland that spelled out a terrible ending. This could have been a great story of a new festival bringing several big names to a city just beginning to catch the EDM craze.
Redline thought that they could handle promoting for a festival of this size, and the effort was just not there. 90% of the promotion was done through them, with the rest being done by local promoters who were promised compensation. Obviously, at this point in time they aren’t getting paid, just like nearly everyone else involved in this production.
Who is Matt Richardson?
Richardson is the man behind the madness, and the man who quickly went into deep hiding. Several attempts were made to contact him through the phone number posted, but his phone was turned off. He is the current target for the majority of finger pointing and blame, as head of Redline Entertainment, rightfully so. Richardson has yet to make a statement to paying customers regarding the situation.
“Hes the same guy who brought Sasha and John Debo. He used to bring shows and promote in the 90s and I guess already had a reputation for scams, which is why I never involved myself.”
And where is the money? Even 2,000 tickets sold would come out to over $300,000.
“If there is money that was made, it is no where to be found. Hardly anyone was paid, even Matt Richardsons partners and investors are awaiting their reimbursement.”
When it came to ESF’s investors, “Matt lied to them about everything and used them for their money.”
At this point, he owes alot of people alot of money. The investors are at a total loss, but the customers shouldn’t have to pay for a festival that was half-assed from the start. Time will tell what happens, but things could get even uglier.
The Silver Lining
There was a silver lining to this story. While Jacksonville was outraged, Uproar Events, Wide Awake Wednesdays, and Active Magazine were quickly working to salvage the weekend with an event of their own. Hope Lansing, Uproar Events co-founder, filled us in on their plan.
“I got word sunday along with Chris Cantillo (the owner of Active Magazine) that Lazy Rich and Gabriel and Dresden were still coming to jacksonville and wanted to play but said they had not been compensated. Everyone from WideAwake Wednesdays at Pure night club pooled their efforts together to get ahold of the artists and asked them to play that night. They agreed, and we worked all day to get things ready. We even had a flyer done in 30 minutes. We gave anyone with an ESF ticket from any day free entry and did what we could to make it up to the fans.”
They were able to throw one of their most successful events to date on the tail end of one of Jacksonville’s ugliest weekends, and show Jacksonville the true meaning of “doing it for the fans.”
This content was curated and edited jointly by: Wade Davis & Les Voss
**If you have any comments or would like to add any information please email me at – wade[at]whiteraverrafting[dot]com
Disclaimer From the Editor – We previously implicated Alliance Events & Nightlife as an accountable party at fault for this event via our Facebook and Twitter. We immediately removed the content after learning that our information was false and would like to take this opportunity to clear their name of all wrong doing. Alliance Events and EDMOrlando were simply marketing and promotional affiliates, who had no hand in the production or back end operation of this event.
***Updates Since Original Post Went Live**
- These screenshots were sent to me about 5 minutes ago. They are in reference to the Electric Sun Festival promotion group on facebook. These comments are from within the last hour (currently 9/4/2012 @ 10:35 EST) and are the first documented statements from Richardson since the event cancellation.