A federal appeals court rejected a $25 million lawsuit claiming Live Nation was ‘stringing along’ country singer Rae Solomon when the company considered but passed on her proposal for an all-female country music festival.
A federal appeals court tossed a $25 million lawsuit against Live Nation over its declining to invest in a proposed festival billing itself as a country version of Lilith Fair.
Singer Rae Solomon claimed that the live event giant led her to believe it would invest in her idea for a “modern” take on Lilith Fair with a “predominantly country spin,” only to back out later. She alleged that Live Nation stole her concept when organizing an all-women day at the 2019 Lake Shake Festival.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled Thursday that Live Nation had not “made any misrepresentations in its dealings with Solomon.” The court stated that Live Nation had only offered “sales talk, future intention, and opinion” but no concrete plans to work with her.
Solomon pitched her “Zenitheve” festival concept to Live Nation’s Women Nation Fund, a program to help “underrepresented female entrepreneurs” in the live music industry. The company was initially interested, with Live Nation reps telling Solomon in 2018 meetings that Zenitheve “was right down the fairway for the kind of stuff we’re interested in” and “exactly what the fund is set up for.”
Live Nation’s interactions with Solomon were of a “non-specific and noncommittal nature,” wrote the court. The company “did not conceal its questions, doubts, or lack of commitment” to her project.
Michael Wichser, Live Nation’s senior vice president of mergers and acquisitions, expressed concern about Solomon’s “abilities to obtain artists or get a team in place,” calling her business plan “lackluster.” Meanwhile, Live Nation’s chief communications officer Carrie Davis said Solomon’s idea was not “compelling or unique and noted that she had not “confirmed any sponsorships or artists.”
Shortly after Live Nation formally passed on Solomon’s idea, the company announced plans for an all-women day at Lake Shake, an annual country festival in Chicago. Solomon alleges that this move caused her investors to pull out of Zenitheve, which forced her to cancel the project.
Solomon sued Live Nation for more than $25 million in damages, claiming the company intentionally and negligently misrepresented its motives to her. Specifically, Solomon says Live Nation acted evasive in its dealings with her to copy her idea.
The Sixth Circuit’s decision says that the facts of the case directly contradicted the alleged motive, that Solomon “claims that Live Nation misrepresented any intention of working with (her) because it had only one motivation from the start: stringing Solomon along and stealing her idea.”
“That speculation, however, crumbles against Live Nation’s uncontradicted evidence that the organizer of the Lake Shake Festival, Brian O’Connell, had no knowledge of the Zenitheve proposal.”
“An expression of interest in participating in a project is not a promise to do so,” wrote the court. “The statement represents nothing more than Live Nation’s interest in the project.”