The Battle over Electric Forest
The Electric Forest Festival is among the most highly-anticipated and celebrated music festivals in the nation. Focusing on electronic dance music and jam bands, but featuring many other genres, the four-day event brings 30,000 plus fans of varied backgrounds and tastes together into one behemoth of a festival. Since its birth in 2011, the festival has been held in Rothbury, Michigan at the Double JJ Ranch and Resort. However, 2014 brought an unexpected shock to the community when SFX Entertainment (famous for putting on events like Mysteryland, Tomorrowland, and Tomorrowworld) attempted to take over the property, which would leave the fate of Electric Forest in their hands.
Since its beginnings, Electric Forest has been organized and ran by a collaboration of two groups: Insomniac, famous for the Electric Daisy Carnival, and Madison House, based in Boulder, CO. They’ve worked together for the last three years to promote the festival and ensure its success. The festival certainly is a fantastic asset for these groups and the finished product showcases their dedication to the fans.
In January of this year, Madison House signed a deal as promoters with massive media-presenter AEG Live – after turning down SFX’s attempts to acquire them. SFX also reportedly attempted to purchase Insomniac, but were refused in favor of Live Nation – who offered Insomniac $50 million less than SFX. These groups are likely concerned that SFX has focused on the wrong ideals – money and power as opposed to customer-service and entertainment. Clearly, SFX Entertainment has reason to be displeased with both groups and the easiest way to target them both is the Electric Forest Festival.
Recently, in what seems to be an attempt to retaliate, SFX made an offer to Progressive Resorts LLC to pay off all debts connected to the Double JJ Ranch and Resort, which would
transfer ownership to them, but is not allowed under the terms of the current lease. Soon after, Progressive Reports began to make claims that the lease signed between them and Madison House for a 20-year festival plan is void, despite already receiving a $60,000 deposit for holding the festival this year.
As soon as that information hit the news, fans became outraged. Over 21,000 tickets have already been sold and SFX’s attempts to overtake the property would put the festival in jeopardy. With their current attitude toward Insomniac and Madison House, who is to say if the festival would be allowed to continue and what terms would it be under if it was? SFX denies claims that they are attempting to impede on the festival in any way.
Insomniac and Madison House have stepped forward to reassure fans. On the Facebook page for Electric Forest, they have asserted, “In light of recent rumors, we want to confirm that Electric Forest 2014 is definitely still happening! We are working to resolve the current legal situation and are confident we will win the debate.” This brings a big sigh of relief to fans that have already purchased tickets and worry about the future of Electric Forest.
Looking forward, the court will hear the case of SFX Entertainment v. AEG/Madison House Presents on February 28th, which Bass Feeds The Soul will follow up on. Until then, rest assured that Insomniac and Madison House, two promoters dedicated to their fans and the EDM culture, say the show will go on.
Written By: Kael Parker