OR promoter Soul'd Out sues AEG over Coachella clauses

Soul'd Out demands an order barring Coachella from enforcing its radius clause and treble damages.

The producers behind this weekend's Soul'd Out music festival are suing the company behind Coachella.

Such radius clauses, say Soul'd Out's lawyers at Portland-based Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, "are expressly forbidden by California" and meant to use "Coachella's market power in the music festival market to suppress competition by other festivals". According to a suit filed in U.S. District Court, Coachella officials stand accused of requiring acts to sign a radius clause that bars artists from playing within a five-state radius of Indio, California, during a five-month period from December until May, a month after the event, which takes place this year April 13-15 and 20-22 and features headliners The Weeknd, Beyonce and Eminem.

Coachella is an annual musical event near Palm Desert, California nearly 1,100 miles from Portland. We have not heard back. The company is now represented by Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt PC. The counterclaim says that React then used those contracts to threaten Eagle, based in Detroit, into entering 50-50 profit split deals when booking contracted artists in exchange for releasing them from the radius clause. "The restriction on the ability of these artists to choose performance venues has thus affected a substantial volume of commerce on the West Coast and has an anticompetitive effect on the consumer, music venues and festivals on the West Coast, and promoters of such events - entirely as a outcome of Defendants' strong-arming and leveraging tactics". According to antitrust law expert and Rutgers University Professor of Law Michael A. Carrier, the case will primarily come down to what effect Coachella's radius clause has on competition and consumers. But he questioned the continent-wide swath cut by Coachella.

To a lesser extent, the well-being of people working within the music industry will also be considered.

A poster for the 2018 Soul'd Out Festival, occurring over 1,000 miles away from Coachella.

Soul'd Out, which grossed $2 million in 2017, says Coachella's illegal contract has hampered its ability to thrive, by causing "numerous artists" to turn down offers to perform in Portland due to their agreements with Coachella. It reads in part: "Radius clauses are common in the concert business".

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