“Fyre Festival was a fraudulent luxury music festival founded by Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc, and rapper Ja Rule. It was created with the intent of promoting the company’s Fyre app for booking music talent. Wikipedia”
Have you ever wanted to go on a completely exclusive, top-of-the-line, vacation getaway with some of the hottest music acts in the business?
That’s what 7,000 people thought they were getting when they ponied up anywhere from $1,000 to a whopping $150,000 for a disaster otherwise known as the “Fyre Festival” only to get burned by completely false advertising.
Fyre Media, Inc. CEO Billy McFarland and entrepreneur and rapper Ja Rule promised the getaway and more from their Fyre Festival in the Bahamas. It was billed as the greatest music festival ever, and would put the ever-popular Coachella to shame. They used social media and celebrities to endorse the event as “a cultural moment created from a blend of music, art, and food.” The island, reputedly once (but in reality never) owned by Pablo Escobar, was to host as many as 33 popular musical acts.
It didn’t even come close. (If “OMG” was ever truly suitable, this was the time.)
Here is a timeline of the disaster:
- In January 2017, McFarland hired a TV production company to film a reality TV show and failed to pay the fee for the service, resulting in them backing out. (OMG)
- With less than two months until the festival, toilets and showers hadn’t shipped, resulting in a rushed process and 5-million-dollar rush charge that McFarland took out a high-interest loan to cover. (OMG!)
- The Wall Street Journal learned that the music professionals hadn’t been paid for their contracts and ticket holders weren’t informed of travel arrangements. (OMG!!)
- The Thursday afternoon before the festival, Blink-182, the headliners, pulled out of the show, as people started 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, disaster relief tents, and dinners of cheese sandwiches with soggy salads. Pictures surfaced online and went viral. (OMG!!!!)
- That night Bahamian officials canceled all inbound flights. (OMG!!!!!)
- The next morning Fyre Festival was “postponed”, and all attendees had to return home. (OMG!!!!!!)
- Ja Rule and Billy McFarland were banned from doing another festival in Bahamas after this disastrous “luxury” Fyre Festival. (OMG!!!!!!!!)
- Over the next few weeks, multiple lawsuits were filed, namely a $100 million class-action lawsuit from celebrity attorney Mark Geragos. (uh….WTF!!!)
While this whole thing, in my opinion, was reckless endangerment and robbery, 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 was NO responsibility assumed. And that was the PR nail in the coffin for the whole thing!
Don’t Wait for Disaster to Burn You Down. Quit saying stupid stuff in a crisis and call the experts.
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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