A dispute between Oregon’s Soul’d Out festival and the Coachella music festival is back in the news as an Oregon judge reversed his 2019 ruling to dismiss the case.
It all started back in 2019 when Soul’d Out first took legal action against the famous music festival. Coachella had a radius clause in place to prevent competitors from booking the artists they have performing at their show. Radius clauses are often put in place by promoters to keep their artists from playing other shows in the area which could potentially affect turnout.
Soul’d Out argued the AEG was interfering with their business by restricting who could play at their event which was more than 1,000 miles north of Coachella’s site in Indio. The lawsuit erupted due to Soul’d Out attempting to book the singer/rapper SZA for their Portland, Oregon festival. The singer turned them down stating that her radius clause would prevent her from accepting the gig.
Soul’d Out also claimed they tried to book a five piece funk/soul group called Tank and the Bangas back in 2018. They band had confirmed but later cancelled the gig when they found out Coachella’s radius clause would prevent them from playing both venues.
The lawsuit has brought the details of the Coachella radius clause to the public eye. It restricts the artists from playing any festival in North America from Dec. 15 to May 1 as well as any hard ticket concerts in Southern California during the period.
The case was brought to court in 2019 and was overseen by Oregon District Court Judge Michael Mosmon. At that point he dismissed the lawsuit on the basis that Coachella could not sue AEG because it was not a party to the contracts Coachella entered into with the artists performing.
Now, 14 months later, the decision was overturned when a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Soul’d Out Music Festival had been harmed by the radius clause and had a right to challenge the contract. As a result, Soul’d Out founders Nicholas Harris and Haythem Adbulhadi could now proceed with their case.
The case was sent back to the Oregon district Court where Mosman ruled against AEG’s motions to dismiss the case noting that Soul’d out’s attorneys had insisted that “some of the arguments require further factual development.” He went on to say, “Presented with the opportunity for more briefing on the theory it would help me better understand the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, I agree.”
The case will now move forward into the discovery stage as Soul’d Out’s lawyers are expected to subpoena artist contracts for the festival and internal communications. In regard to the overturned decision, Harris and Abdulhadi’s lawyer, Nicka Aldrich released he following statement.
"We are pleased that the court has agreed that Soul’d Out’s complaint was sufficient and that the case can go forward. We expect that, after complete discovery, a jury will find that Coachella’s radius clause is unreasonable, and that AEG’s use and abuse of that clause to hurt local music festivals was unlawful.”
Representatives for Coachella were not available for comment. We can only wait and see where the case will go from here.