Virgin Fest Stiffed by WME’s Refusal to Return $6M Artist Deposits

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Canceled Virgin Fest in LA feeling stiffed over WME's refusal to return $6M artist deposits

atop Banc of California Stadium. Virgin Fest was to be a celebration of inclusivity where"All Are Welcome" but on May 8, organizers were notified by Mayorthat the event would “not be allowed as originally planned" due to a statewide stay-at-home order.reached out to talent agencies to request they return deposits paid to book artists, all but one obliged.

Even worse, the money is likely sitting in an account set up by her business manager, meaning she can see it but can't touch it. Because Virgin Fest is a new event, WME required organizers to pay 100% of artist fees in advance, days before the lineup was announced.

So far, no major agency has faced that type of lawsuit in the COVID-19 era, despite more than 100,000 events and concerts being canceled or postponed. A source tellsthat WME had pushed for Virgin Fest to postpone Lizzo’s headline performance until the 2021 festival, which would have allowed Lizzo to continue to hold the huge payday in her trust account. But because of scheduling issues, Virgin Fest was unable to immediately secure new dates at Banc of California Stadium.

Those threats appear to be in reaction to alleged threats from the agency. According to Ciongoli’s letter, an executive at WME told Virgin Fest that the fight over the deposit"will have a significant and enduring impact on Virgin Fest’s relationship with WME and its talent."

 

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