Soul’d Out Productions, the organiser of the 15,000-capacity Soul’d Music Festival in Portland, Oregon, has filed a lawsuit against California’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (cap. 126,000) in Indio, claiming “monopolistic practices” to deter acts from playing other festivals.
Although Portland and Indio are more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kms) apart – extending across five states, Coachella’s contractual radius clause, or exclusivity restriction, prohibits artistes from performing “at any other festival or themed event within a distance that extends over 1,300 miles”, for five months before and after Coachella, according to the Portland Business Journal.
The suit was filed in the US District Court in Oregon on 9 April and named Coachella Music Festival LLC and affiliated companies Goldenvoice LLC, AEG Presents LLC, Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc. and The Anschutz Corp.
The Soul’d Out Music Festival, featuring Erykah Badu, De La Soul and Wyclef Jean, was held from 18-22 April while Coachella spans two weekends, 13-15 April and 20-22 April, with headliners such as Beyoncé, Eminem, The Weeknd and Haim,
Soul’d Out Productions claims that it has been injured by the defendants’
anti-competitive practices, with artistes unwilling to perform at the Soul’d Out Festival under threat from the defendants.
The suit says the practice violates both federal and state antitrust laws in
Oregon and California. It also claims the practice can lead to higher prices,
fewer venues and less consumer choice.
“We seek no less than to operate in a fair and open environment,” says
Soul’d Out co-owner and co-founder Nicholas Harris. “But as our
industry has become more consolidated, it is subjected to more and more
corporate tactics that penalise the public.”
The plaintiff wants “to bar Coachella and its AEG affiliates from enforcing
any performance contracts that contain such a radius clause”, and also seeks treble damages from injuries caused by their unlawful actions and attorneys’ fees spent bringing the lawsuit.
A Goldenvoice statement says, “Radius clauses are common in the concert business where promoters take great risk and spend huge sums to produce marquee festivals, tours and other shows.
“The producers of Coachella will vigorously defend against this lawsuit,
which calls into question a long-standing industry practice that is crucial
to our ability to continue offering fans the unrivaled experience for which
Coachella has become known.”