In early March, a friend of mine texted me to ask if I wanted to be a talent producer for the Fyre Festival. I’d never heard of it, but the gig involved going to the Bahamas and being paid extremely well. So I said yes and packed my bags. The festival was supposed to be a luxury music retreat where elite millennials could mingle with “influencers” and models. Tickets cost between $1K and $125K, gourmet food and accommodations were promised. I was planning to spend the next two months working on the festival, but a mere four days after I arrived I was back on a plane to New York because the whole thing, as everyone now knows, was a complete disaster. I was briefly involved in the planning of the event and got a front-row seat to chaos.
On March 14, I flew from Miami to the island of Great Exuma to get the planning started. I was excited, at least at first. Flying in, the water looked beautiful — but I was almost immediately warned not to go near it because of a rampant shark problem. That was an omen I regrettably missed.
After we landed, we drove to the festival site to assess our goods. When we arrived, my initial reaction was “huh.” This was not a model-filled private cay that was owned by Pablo Escobar. This was a development lot covered in gravel with a few tractors scattered around. There was not enough space to build all the tents and green rooms they would need. There was not a long, beautiful beach populated by swimming pigs. There were, however, a lot of sand flies that left me looking like I had smallpox. Still, I had hope.
My job as a talent producer was to coordinate travel and on-site logistics with the artists who would be performing: Blink 182, Major Lazer, Disclosure, among others, had already signed on. I would be working with an 11-person team and a few of the festival executives. The production team was all new hires and, before we arrived, we were led to believe things had been in motion for a while. But nothing had been done. Festival vendors weren’t in place, no stage had been rented, transportation had not been arranged. Frankly, we were standing on an empty gravel pit and no one had any idea how we were going to build a festival village from scratch.
Pending disaster aside, I started working from an island rental house. I contacted the booked artists’ tour managers to start to coordinate. Almost all of them had the same question for me, which was along the lines of, “Hey … Where’s our money??” I tried to email the business manager to get an answer, who said something like “stand by” for three days in a row. By the end of the week it became clear they would not pay the people they owed.
I cannot explain how or why the bros running this festival ignored every warning sign they were given along the way. The writing was on the wall. I saw it firsthand six weeks ago. They overlooked so many very basic things. And baby, they forgot to make me sign an NDA.
Source/More: New York