The Fyre Festival
The Fyre Festival was arguably one of the biggest let downs and controversies of 2017. Promised a luxurious music festival located on the beautiful beaches of the Bahamas, attendees were shocked to see that the festival they spent thousands of dollars to experience did not live up its glamourous expectations. The Fyre festival was a complete disaster, this is due to founders Billy McFarland and Ja Rule’s inability to manage properly, insufficient funding, and a lot of lying. In the months before and after the Fyre Festival took place, Billy McFarland and Ja Rule ,the creators of what was to be “the biggest event of the decade” scammed millions of dollars out of investors and companies in order to maintain their lavish lifestyle and should be held responsible for their actions.The Fyre Festival was arguably one of the biggest let downs and controversies of 2017. Promised a luxurious music festival located on the beautiful beaches of the Bahamas, attendees were shocked to see that the festival they spent thousands of dollars to experience did not live up its glamourous expectations. The Fyre festival was a complete disaster, this is due to founders Billy McFarland and Ja Rule’s inability to manage properly, insufficient funding, and a lot of lying. In the months before and after the Fyre Festival took place, Billy McFarland and Ja Rule ,the creators of what was to be “the biggest event of the decade” scammed millions of dollars out of investors and companies in order to maintain their lavish lifestyle and should be held responsible for their actions. The Fyre Festival was promised to be the biggest music festival in the last decade. The event was invented as a way to promote the FYRE app, an app used to book artist for events. The Fyre Festival was proposed to be a lavish festival on the beautiful island of Normans Cay, where attendees would be flown there on private jets and live in the beach hut villas, private houses, or stay on private yachts with their own chefs. There would be headlining acts such as Major Lazer, disclosed, and blink 182. With influencers such as Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, Kendall Jenner, and Emily Ratajkowski promoting the festival the music festival quickly gained the public attention. In the Netflix documentary over the Fyre Festival, founder Billy McFarland described the promotional shoot as “selling a pipe dream to the everyday man”. They did so well at promoting this that within the first 48 hours they sold a 95% of their tickets and soon after the music festival was entirely sold out. From many peoples perspective the FYRE Festival was going to be huge and there were no red flags. Upon arrival to the music festival, attendees were shocked to see the outcome of what they had paid thousands of dollars for. Instead of flying on a private plane as they were promised, they were boarded onto crowded main airway planes and upon arrival they were loaded onto yellow school buses with no AC. The night before, a huge thunderstorm had blown through, completely ruining the campsite. According to journalist, Alani Vargas, attendees were horrified to find “tents, plastic-wrapped mattresses, and kiosks left unattended with crates of alcohol left out in the sun” (Vargas). Beds were soaked. Tents, that were already nowhere near what people were promised, we’re completely ruined. In a frenzy to get everything together attendees were sent to a beachside restaurant where they stayed for. There was no organization to the chaos and no time to fix it.In freelance journalist Amelia Abrahams’ article over the Fyre Festival, she quoted Seth Crossno, a Fyre Festival attendee. Crossno stated that “There were a bunch of trucks, people unloading things, tents everywhere – some were soaking wet because it had rained. It didn’t look like anything we’d signed up for” (Abraham). People were running around trying to find their luggage and searching for a place to sleep and food, it was complete madness. Once promised luxury meals made by private chefs, they now received Styrofoam boxes with two slices of bread and a slice of cheese. There is no way for people to leave the island, because there was no planes there to take them back. They were stranded, had nowhere to go, had little to eat, and had nowhere to sleep. By the morning the festival released a statement that “After assessing the situation this morning and looking at best options for our guests, we cannot move forward as we hoped we could” (Vargas). The Fyre Festival was officially cancelled and after many long hours, visitors were finally able to go home. Many people had trouble understanding how a man who held such a high reputation and was seen as a “great entrepreneur” could pull off such a scam. The reason Billy McFarland was able to pull this off was because he was great at convincing people of anything. He lied to investors about his stocks, stating that he had millions invested but only had a few thousand. He said that he had bought Pablo Escobar’s Island, Normans Cay, for $10 million when in reality he was leasing the island and it only put $1 million with the money into it. In the Netflix documentary “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” Music Festival Consultant, Marc Weinstein, stated McFarland “would not take “no” for an answer and he would not take advice” (FYRE). Weinstein stated that he was told to keep Carola Jain, one of the main investors of the fire festival, in the dark about the housing situation so that they could keep funneling money out of her. Billy McFarland was 100% aware of what he was doing and the consequences of his actions. He took millions of dollars from people knowing that the festival that he had promised was far from possible and that they would never see a return from their investment. The aftermath of the Fyre Festival left hundreds of local Exuma workers who had spent day and night for six to eight weeks without any pay. According to journalist Maggie Parker in her article over the effects the Fyre Festival had over the island over Exuma, “about a quarter of a million dollars is owed in day wages to laborers” (Parker). Local businesses, such as Exuma Point Beach Bar and Grill, that that supported the festival were drained of money and left sprawling in debt. Maryann Rolle, the owner of Exuma Point Beach Bar and Grill said “she spent $50,000 in her savings, and is owed a total of $137,000 to pay and feed festival workers” (Parker). Rolle is one of the many people who has still not received the money that is owed to them by the founders of the Fyre Festival. The fraud did not stop after the festival was over. Once visitors got home they were asked to fill out a refund form online, where they were “offered the option of forgoing your refund for double the tickets to next year’s festival” (Abraham). An option that was clearly just another way for Billy McFarland to get money out of people. McFarland is now facing up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud. Although legal justice is being served, there are still thousands of people waiting to get their hardworking money back and no perspective as to when that will be. The Fyre Festival had the possibility of being the next greatest music festival available, but due to Billy McFarland’s inability to properly manage production or receive enough funds to put on the luxurious musical festival in the Bahamas like he promised to so many, the festival is now known as one of the biggest scams and failures in music festival history. With millions of dollars still owed to investors, attendees, and Exuma locals , Billy McFarland and everyone involved in the scam that is known as the Fyre Festival should be held lawfully and financially responsible.