The inaugural Virgin Music Festival was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which the event’s organizers, VFLA Eventco LLC, have called a “force majeure.” VFLA Eventco LLC, the music festival wing of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is now suing several prominent artist-affiliated touring companies and the William Morris Endeavor (WME) talent agency for a reported $6 million, after allegedly failing to return artist’s deposits in response to the “uncontrollable factor,” caused by the pandemic’s shutdown. WME is an agency that represents a variety of entertainment figures, including musicians that were supposed to perform at this festival.
This lawsuit was also levied against Ellie Goulding’s Starry US Touring, Lizzo’s Big Grrrl Big Touring and Kali Uchis Touring, who were alleged to have agreed to pay back their deposits as a result of a force majeure provision. A force majeure is legally classified as “unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract,” which VFLA Eventco LLC allegedly invoked in their artist’s agreements.
The company states that other agencies returned, or agreed to return, the full amount of the prepaid deposits for the performances, but alleges that WME argued that these deposits did not need to be returned, as the performers were “otherwise ready, willing and able to perform.”
“[WME] refused to return the deposits and insisted that the artists it represents are entitled to keep the deposits — even if the Covid-19 pandemic constituted a force majeure event, even if the governmental orders prevented the festival from proceeding, and even if those orders likewise made it unlawful for their artists to perform on the dates and at the times and places specified in their agreements with VFLA,” the company stated.
According to IQ, the company is seeking a court order to demand that WME pay back these deposits as well as damages. The outlet also states that the company wants the three touring companies to pay additional damages for “breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.”
In addition to the aforementioned artists, Major Lazer, A$AP Rocky, Banks, Empress Of, Jay Som, Jorja Smith and Clairo were originally scheduled to perform at the event this June at the Banc of California in Los Angeles.