COVID-19 has struck the world hard. Industries all over the globe continue to suffer losses due to the virus. Needless to say, both the music industry and show business is no stranger to this issue. As more and more festivals are canceled, questions arise. Who will survive and be able to move on once this is over? Another issue presented with every cancelation is the refund situation for events. Thousands of purchasers present claims, demanding their money back. Now, the first step in what might be a present issue with more than one festival arises. The organizers behind Central Valley-based festival Lightning in a Bottle, Do Lab, are being sued for refusing to refund their purchasers.

The Lawsuit

Lightning in a Bottle has taken place in various locations across California for almost fifteen years, but they recently announced the 2020 event’s cancellation at the end of March. However, many were surprised after finding out the festival would not offer refunds to its purchasers.

LIB organizers declared that the money earned from ticket sales had already been used. Not providing refunds seemed like a strategy taken in order to secure their financial future, and therefore the festival’s future for next year. Their official email, sent to their mailing list, read:

Lightning in a Bottle 2020 Cancelled – Future of Festival in Doubt ...

The general frustration and outrage from would-be attendees of LiB expressed on social media has taken been taken a step further. This new lawsuit, Rutledge v. Do LaB Inc., has been filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court.

The plaintiff had purchased a ticket to the event, and alleges that the terms and conditions enforced by the festival’s organization, which contains the disclaimers “all sales are final” and “no refunds will be granted for any reason,” are unenforceable. It reasons that such disclaimers lack consideration because the defendant retained “complete and unfettered control to modify or terminate the agreement without assuming any obligations towards the Plaintiff and the Class.”

What Comes Next?

From a broader perspective, Lightning in a Bottle’s lawsuit means much more. Companies across the music industry are now forced to carefully review all of their policies regarding refunds. The growing situation is a problematic one, and we don’t doubt that more class action lawsuits will follow suit. Clients demand their money back. We will experience more and more situations like this one. Event production companies will face a tough choice. For some, canceling events and providing refunds will mean the end of their company. Others will search for different ways to avoid refunds—and perhaps end up in another situation similar to Do Lab. Ultimately, the entirety of the entertainment industry faces this new threat—and finding a solution to such a big problem can’t be done in a small amount of time.

Sacrifice For A Greater Good

All around the world, boards and directives try to come with solutions to the issue at hand: events are forced to be cancelled, but the money that comes from these events pays the bills for these companies to function. Money continues, as always, to be the most dominant issue. And, since companies need it to continue existing, taking action such as requesting people to be patient while they decide the options that they can offer – or accept alternative options like ticket credits for future years – are becoming necessary, even when they don’t go over well with their audience.

People inside the industry have encouraged purchasers to not ask for refunds, and consider sacrificing their money so that the industry may live on. The problem is that some might be able to do it, but others aren’t that lucky. We’ve seen different behaviors ever since the pandemic started. Some festivals issued refunds. Others made tickets reusable for next year’s edition. However, fear increases as next year may not be granted.

Certainly, the situation is a complicated one. However, it’s important to stay calm, and consider the tough spot that these event companies are put into. As time goes on, more solution-oriented ideas will hopefully come into the spotlight. Uniting in through this time will help us face this as a community.

You can read more about the lawsuit against Lightning in a Bottle here.