On May 14, 2020, Live Nation failed to convince a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee to dismiss a $25 million-dollar lawsuit in which concert organizers claimed that Live Nation stole their idea for a country music festival with an all-female lineup.
In a complaint filed in May 2019, plaintiff East Hallows LLC accused defendant Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. of fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation during business negotiations for a live music event in Chicago, Illinois. The plaintiff alleged that Live Nation feigned interest in East Hallows's music festival, “Zenitheve,” and requested detailed event information, only to poach the plaintiff's concert ideas for Live Nation's own remarkably similar music festival.
Back in 2018, country artist Rae Solomon (“Solomon”) and sports industry veteran Jacob Green (“Green”) formed East Hallows to produce the “Zenitheve Music Festival,” a live event that was planned for a May 2019 launch to celebrate female artists in the music industry. In July of 2018, Live Nation executives reached out to Solomon about participating “to a large extent” and investing between $1.5 and $2.5 million in Zenitheve, telling them that the festival aligned with Live Nation's similar mission of supporting female artists. In subsequent correspondence, Live Nation asked for more festival specifics while reiterating that they loved Zenitheve's “vision” and were “looking forward to working together.” Reasonably believing that Live Nation's interest was in good faith, Solomon disclosed the details of her business plan and named the artists— Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Lauren Alaina, and Lindsey Ell— that Solomon had in mind for the festival.
However, in September of 2018, Live Nation sang a different tune; when Solomon reached back out to Live Nation, the same executives told her that if “Live Nation was interested in an all-female music festival, they would probably just do it themselves.” Finally, in October 2018, Live Nation informed Solomon that it was “no longer interested” in Zenitheve, declaring it too risky considering Live Nation's own past failures in putting on an all-female music festival.
However, less than one month later, on November 8, 2018, Live Nation announced a new June 2019 music festival called the “Country LakeShake” in Chicago, near the very venue East Hallows planned to secure for its own event. Remarkably, the Country LakeShake featured an all-female lineup on its opening day with many of the same female artists Solomon had shared with Live Nation and had already tentatively booked for Zenitheve.
Thereafter, East Hallows vision for Zenitheve was “eviscerated”; when the plaintiff attempted to move forward with plans for the festival, investors and corporate sponsors were no longer interested given the direct competition from Live Nation.
In response to East Hallows allegations, Live Nation filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that their own statements were merely opinions that pertained to future events and that the plaintiff's allegations were inadequately pled. Judge William L. Campbell, Jr., however, disagreed. The Judge found that Live Nation did indeed express interest in investing in Zenitheve when, unbeknownst to East Hallows, it did not have the present intent to do so and while plans for its own music event were already underway. Judge Campbell, Jr. further found that East Hallows justifiably relied on Live Nation's affirmations of support, and thereby sufficiently pled its intentional and negligent misrepresentation claims.
East Hallows is represented by Douglas S. Johnson of Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison LLC.
Live Nation is represented by Russell B. Morgan and Jason C. Palmer of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.
The case is East Hallows LLC v. Live Nation Entertainment Inc., case number 3:19-cv-00465, in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.