The saga surrounding failed Australian hip hop festival Heatwave continues nearly a year after liquidators were called in to manage the festival’s finances after it entered voluntary administration due to large unpaid debts and a shortfall in revenue from poor ticket sales.
The festival made headlines in January last year after headliner D12 failed to show for half the dates, the Perth event was cancelled at the last minute, the Melbourne event had no alcohol after organisers forgot to apply for a liquor license, and VIP ticket perks failed to materialise.
The NSW Department of Fair Trading ran an investigation earlier this year into the festival after an avalanche of complaints from ticket holders, and eventually demanded the festival offer refunds to those who want them in Sydney due to misleading advertising.
Now according to The Australian, liquidators Ferrier Hogdson have launched legal action against D12 after the Detroit-based group failed to show up for half of the festival dates. The liquidators want the rappers to immediately refund the $35,475.73 they were paid to perform and to pay court costs and interest.
D12 missed the first three dates of the tour, including the multi-day Adelaide festival, after they didn’t show up for their scheduled flight. Organisers were reportedly furious with the rap group, but D12 told Tone Deaf in an interview that “it was just paperwork holding us up and once we got that all done, we was over here. That’s all that was.”
The liquidators however see things differently, and in their statement of claim to the court say that D12 breached their contract when they failed to show.
“On or around November 2, 2011, the defendants entered into an agreement with Heatwave’s organisers (and) were paid two instalments of $US18,000,” read the liquidators claim. “The defendants failed to perform at three of the festivals, in breach of the agreement. (We) are entitled to a refund of the total monies paid.”
[do action=”pullquote”]”The defendants failed to perform at three of the festivals, in breach of the agreement. (We) are entitled to a refund of the total monies paid.”[/do]
Ferrier Hogdson have asked for a leave to issue summons to the group’s management in the United States. Under South Australian law, parties can issue proceedings interstate or overseas only with the permission of a court. “I also need to liaise with the court registry to determine what the costs of doing that might be,” Mr Rowley said.
The court battle between Heatwave and D12 is just the latest in a long string of legal and business mishaps that have plagued Australian promoters who have attempted to tour overseas hip hop artists.
Earlier this year similar proceedings were brought by Mothership Music, the promotions company behind the popular Fat As Butter music festival, who successfully sued Flo Rida who decided on the day of the event not to perform.
Flo Rida, and his Australian representative, Darren Ayre, were ordered to make an upfront payment of $55,000 to Mothership Music, as well as almost $7,000 spent on air fares, “appropriate motor vehicles” and hospitality for Dillard and his entourage.
On top of that, Flo Rida and his managment were ordered to pay $380,400 in damages and $37,745 in legal fees for loss of revenue, poor ticket sales and lost sponsorship over Flo Rida’s notorious no-show.
In other hip hop related court news, promoters for the failed 2008 Australian tour with Pitbull are also suing for more than $200,000 after the Latino hip hop star refused to get on his scheduled flight because “something didn’t feel right”.
Phonographic Performance Company Of Australia (PPCA) has also launched legal action in Victoria’s Supreme Court against troubled hip hop festival Supafest for failure to pay $13,200 in artist royalties.
Promoter Sam Speaight, who had toured everyone from Public Enemy, Method Man, Redman, Lupe Fiasco, and De La Soul, spoke about the inherent dangers of promoting hip hop acts from the US and how his ill-fated Mos Def tour nearly sent him bankrupt.
“There’s a total lack of management expertise anywhere in this end of the industry,” he said. “This is the immediate reason that drives these outcomes. The people managing these artists couldn’t manage a bet in a casino, you know? Most of the time they’re friends. Very rarely are they reputable managers.”
“Unfortunately a contract is only as good as one’s willingness to go to court to prosecute it,” he continued. “If you’re not willing to put your hand in your pocket and go to court to get your money, then you might as well scribble some incoherent lines on the back of a napkin and exchange that with your client, and call that your contract.”
Heatwave’s liquidators now have 42 days to compile documentation, before the matter returns to court for a status hearing.