Nicholas Harris and Haytham Abdulhadi of Soul’d Out Productions have been cleared to proceed with their lawsuit against Coachella, opened in April of 2018. The lawsuit alleges that festival organizers Goldenvoice and AEG utilize an extremely restrictive, monopolistic radius clause that prevents many high-demand acts from performing at any other festival in North America from December 15 to May 1. Harris and Abdulhadi specifically posited that the clause creates an “illegal monopoly in the market for live music festival performances” by “unreasonably restricting price and cost of competition among live concert venues.”
Harris and Abdulhadi filed the suit two years ago after complications created by Coachella’s radius clause prevented them from booking SZA and Tank And The Bangas for Soul’d Out Music Festival, an event that takes place over 1,000 miles away from Coachella in April. Notably, Harris and Abdulhadi were the first promoters to publicize Coachella’s radius clause stipulations, the terms of which had not been released prior to the lawsuit.
Coachella attorneys specified the radius clause as a necessary protection against competing events that could emulate the event’s specially-curated lineup. An excerpt from their court filing, previously obtained by Billboard, read,
“The entire purpose of the radius clause is to protect AEG from competitors unfairly free-riding on its creative choices in selecting its artist lineup. As more festivals proliferate, maintaining a unique festival lineup is crucial for Coachella to remain competitive.”
The lawsuit has not been a smooth ride to date. It was initially dismissed in 2019 by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman on the grounds that Soul’d Out was not directly targeted by the radius clause. Harris and Abdulhadi then took the suit to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Judge Mosman’s decision was reversed on the grounds that the clause had in fact harmed Soul’d Out, bringing the suit back to Mosman once again.
On August 19, Mosman ruled that the suit can proceed. Moving forward, the case, which is currently moving into the discovery phase, will likely be taken to courts where AEG and Goldenvoice will presumably have to defend their biggest event.
Featured image: Courtesy of Coachella