When it comes to Australian Festival Disasters, hip-hop events seem to take it to a whole new level; and while we may look back at Heatwave’s catastrophic 2012 appearance and cringe, but that’s nothing compared to the long-lasting, damaging effects of Supafest.
The saga of the embattled hip hop festival has been on a sharp downward trajectory ever since he failed to deliver on its promises to begin with. Namely, with thousands of ticket holders being ripped off when a number of the headliners, such P, Diddy, Missy Elliot and Rick Ross, were pulled off the lineup to cut costs – or because they had simply never been booked.
Following the fall-out, in which it appeared that the organisers of Supafest had acted dishonestly, at worse, illegally, they remained inexplicably unashamed about their behaviour even when they were slapped with severe fines from Victorian Courts over their shady business practises.
In a lawsuit brought forward by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA), Vicotria’s Supreme Court issued them with a notice of failing to pay the amount of $13,200 owing in collective royalties. Along with debts worth in the millions owed by Supafest organisers to a number of their creditors.
That’s before even getting to the punters who bought tickets to the calamitous event, then demanded refunds, only to find that after continual delays and promises – Supafest organisers struggled to honour their commitments to dissatisfied – nay, outraged – ticket-holders.
Now, nearly six months on, the plot thickens again.
A report from Courthouse News Service states that the booking agents, the American Talent Agency is claiming that Supafest organisers, Paperchase Touring, owes them $US 1.92 million for booking P. Diddy, Missy Elliott, Kelly Rowland and T-Pain for the 2012 Supafest lineup.
The US-based booking agents have slapped Paperchase Touring with a lawsuit in the the New York Supreme Court that purports they complied with Paperchase and CEO Dwayne Cross’ wishes in providing acts for the 2012 lineup, following their previous business relationship on the 2010 and 2011 legs of Supafest.
The New York Supreme Court lawsuit purports that American Talent Agency worked with Paperchase Touring to book artists for the 2010 and 2011 Supafest music events, when Paperchase and CEO Dwayne Cross asked the agency to line up artists for 2012, American Talent Agency says it complied.
The lawsuit adds that Paperchase managed to persuade American Talent Agency, on the basis of their previous working relationship, to forgo advance payment. The booking agents state that Supafest organisers failed to pay the full contract amount for Kelly Rowland and T-Pain, who performed at the four-day festival in April, but is also seeking damages from no-shows from Missy Elliott and P. Diddy.
Despite drawing more than 100,000 people in Aprili 2012, Paperchase cut Missy Elliott from the Supafest 2012 lineup, forcing her representatives to lose its $US 30,000 commission and pay the rapper a $US 50,000 cancellation fee; while Sean “Diddy” Combs pulled out of the festival after Paperchase paid him just $200,000 of his promised $1.6 million fee, according to the lawsuit.
Although neither performer was confirmed in the festival, Paperchase continued to use their names to promote the hip hop festival.
While Paperchase and Cross paid in full for just two of the artists the American Talent Agency booked, rappers Ludacris and Big Sean, according to the lawsuit they failed on fronting the cash for the other planned acts and the agency claims the promoter’s actions caused loss in commisions, but also damaged its reputation with Supafest performer T-Pain severing his relationship with the American Talent Agency after he wasn’t paid in full for his 2012 appearance.
American Talent Agency is seeking at least $US 1.92 million from Paperchase and Cross for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraudulent misrepresentation and contract interference. Ouch.
The news comes a week after Cross himself got into a twitter feud with P. Diddy over the super-failure of his hip-hop festival. According to News Ltd, the rap mogul fired the first volley, when he tweeted about his cancelled festival appearance: “Im MAD as F—. Im very upset that the promoters that contracted me to come never fulfilled the damn contract! My bags are pack. Im ready!”
Cross says he was forced to choose between Diddy’s costly demands and keeping Supafest costs level with amended headliner, Chris Brown.
“We did everything we could to get Diddy here,” tweeted Cross, “- within reason. It was hurtful to see him attack the brand and the event. I didn’t want to get into a Twitter battle. That’s not my game.”
Cross, who has previously toured Jay Z, Rihanna and Snoop Dogg, said that dealing with rappers and hip-hop acts was inherently fraught with danger, but was aware of the risks: ”The hip hop market is notorious for not showing up, or taking the money and running. We try to fight that, but when it happens to us, it’s a slap in the face,” said Cross.
Despite the financial shitstorm and negative press, Cross is adamant he’ll “fight on” to “strengthen the brand,” saying that there’s interest in a Supafest in Dubai, Singapore and South Africa.
“We have had no incidents, no drug arrests, no overdoses,” says the Paperchase CEO. “We had a couple of acts that didn’t turn up, but we still put on a great show. We will always have our detractors and people who say things. But the Supafest brand is not tainted. We will not go away.”
American Talent Agency’s nearly $2 million lawsuit may say otherwise…