‘It was an absolute Fyre Festival.’ Before Miami contestants were enlisted to save the world, another group signed up in Montreal. But where were the cameras?
The Fyre Festival was a huge flop. The organizers were supposed to be bringing the festival in on a budget, but the hype was all about how the island of private islands could house up to 10,000 people. In reality, the Fyre Festival was a $20-million disaster when it was first announced; the organizers said most of the tents were a mess, despite the fact that they had been built. At its peak, the festival had 1,500 people, but after a few thousand showed up, a dispute over rent led to the festival’s demise.
“No one understood money,” says one Fyre staffer. “So we did. We did like everybody else.”
The organizers were eventually charged with fraud, and they have agreed to settle the case out of court for $95 million — about the same amount it costs to rent a single unit on one of the islands the organizers put up for sale. It’s the sort of win that you expect from any other disaster. Except of course, this one wasn’t just a disaster — it was a disaster in the making.
To make money at any given festival, the organizers had to have an influx of people. Because, if you’re planning a real (and not-fake) event, you have to have enough people to cover all the costs.
In this case, the organizers had overshot their estimate of 1,500 people, so they turned to another source of revenue — merch. There was a line of t-shirts in one of the tents, and one of the organizers, Darren Murakami, had made them himself. “He had to have one of everything. And he had to have it fast! He had a deadline!” someone at the festival remembers.
The fact that they were willing to try to sell shirts made by one of the organizers shows how desperate they must have been to get people to come. And that also