Music Mondays – Portland music festival sues Coachella for monopoly, ‘restrictive’ contracts

The organizers of a Portland music festival have filed a lawsuit claiming one of the nation’s best-known events uses “monopolistic practices” to deter acts from playing other such festivals.

Soul’d Out Productions, which runs the Soul’d Out Music Festival which this year runs between April 18 and April 22, filed its suit against Coachella Music Festival.

At issue is a “contractual restriction” that Soul’d Out says prohibits artists who perform at Coachella from playing “at any other festival or themed event within a distance that extends over 1,300 miles” for five months before or after Coachella.

“Soul’d Out Productions, located over 1,000 miles from Coachella, claims that it has been injured by the defendants’ anticompetitive practices, with artists unwilling to perform at the Soul’d Out Festival under threat from the defendants,” a spokesperson said in an email.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court’s Oregon courthouse Monday against Coachella Music Festival LLC and its affiliated companies: Goldenvoice LLC, AEG Presents LLC, Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc., and The Anschutz Corp. The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival takes place in Indio, Calif.

The suit says the practice violates both federal and state antitrust laws in Oregon and California. It claims the practice can lead to higher prices, fewer venues and less consumer choice. Artists have declined to play at Soul’d Out, which this year features Erykah Badu and De La Soul, because of the clause, organizers claim.

“We seek no less than to operate in a fair and open environment,” said Soul’d Out Productions co-owner and co-founder Nicholas Harris in a release.

“But as our industry has become more consolidated, it is subjected to more and more corporate tactics that penalize the public. Music, and the culture that births it, is not a commodity to be exploited. It is meant to inspire and enrich our lives.”

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt PC is representing Soul’d Out in the matter. Soul’d Out 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 this lawsuit.”

– Excerpt from an article by Andy Giegerich for Biz Journals. See the full article here

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