Have you ever wanted to go on a completely exclusive, top-of-the-line, vacation getaway with some the hottest music acts in the business? All while eating catered food from a world class chef, glamping (DEFINE: glamor camping), wearing designer swimsuits, partying on yachts.
Literally the definition of excessive paradise.
That’s what 7,000 people thought they were getting into when they ponied up anywhere from $1,000 – $12,000 a ticket (some VIP tickets worth $250,000) for the Fyre Music Festival only to get completely burned by nothing being true.1
Billy McFarland and a young entrepreneur and rapper, Ja Rule, promised all of the above and more while promoting their Fyre Festival in the Bahamas. It was billed as the greatest festival to ever happen putting the ever-popular Coachella to shame. They used social media with model celebrities such as Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski to endorse the event as “a cultural moment created from a blend of music, art, and food.” The island was apparently once owned by Pablo Escobar and music acts from Blink-182, Migos and Major Lazer were scheduled to perform. This was supposed to be the weekend of all weekends. 2
It didn’t even come close. (If OMG was ever a suitable acronym to use in the truest sense of its meaning, this would be the time to use it.)
Here is a timeline of the disaster: 3
In January 2017, McFarland hired a TV production company to film a reality TV show and fails to pay the fee for the service, resulting in them backing out. (OMG)
With less than two months until the festival, the toilet/shower provider hasn’t shipped and installed the equipment for 7,000 people resulting in the process needing to be rushed coming up to a 5-million-dollar rush charge which McFarland takes out a high-interest loan to cover. (OMG!)
The Thursday afternoon before the festival, Blink-182, the headliners, pulls out of the show saying they weren’t confident they would have everything they would need to put on a good show. All the while people start arriving in the Bahamas. (OMG!!!!)
The travelers were expecting (as promised) villas, gourmet cooking etc. They were greeted with a gravel lot, hardly any staff, scattered disaster relief tents as housing and their dinner was a cheese sandwich with soggy salad. Pictures surface online and things go viral. There is little power as people lose the ability to communicate with family back home, security is minuscule and luggage (which was put in a massive shipping container with no organization) was stolen. (OMG!!!!!)
That night Bahamian officials cancel all inbound flights. (OMG!!!!!!)
The next morning Fyre Festival is postponed and all attendees have to return home. (OMG!!!!!!!)
Over the next few weeks many lawsuits are thrown at the Fyre Festival namely a $100 million class-action lawsuit from celebrity attorney Mark Geragos. (uh….WT@!%$!!!)
The coverage after the event has been atrocious for McFarland and Ja Rule with publications like The New York Times publishing multiple stories on the disaster. People who worked for the Fyre team have leaked information stating the entire thing was a disaster from the beginning.4
While this whole thing, in my opinion, was robbery of people’s time and money what grinds my gears the most was the way Ja Rule and McFarland responded.
Ja Rule typed out a note on his iPhone and tweeted a picture saying (in caps) “was NOT A SCAM” and “this is NOT MY FAULT.” McFarland pointed blame at the organizers (whom he hired) and the bad weather. There’s
NO responsibility here. It’s just complete and utter disregard for something that was never planned out, never executed and thereby doomed from the beginning.
There’s talks of this event attempting to get off the ground again in 2018… but who knows if they’ll even sell a ticket. If they plan on reviving it, the PR that goes before it will need to be so solid and prolific in order to combat the negative publicity that will haunt it.
1 J. Coscarelli & M. Ryzik “Fyre Festival, A Luxury Music Weekend, Crumbles in the Bahamas” www.nytimes.com April 28 2017, Web June 21, 2017
2 J. Coscarelli & M. Ryzik “In Wreckage of the Fyre Festival, Fury, Lawsuits and an Inquiry” www.nytimes.com May 21 2017, Web June 21, 2017
3 A. Gaca “A Comprehensive Timeline of Fyre Festival’s Ongoing Disaster” www.SPIN.com May 03 2017, Web June 21, 2017
4 C. Gordon “I Worked at Fyre Festival. It Was Always Going to Be a Disaster” www.thecut.com April 28 2017, Web June 21, 2017