Gary Richards’ departure from HARD was one of the biggest pieces of dance music news in 2017. HARD events played a huge role in the growth of dance music in America, and Richards was the man behind all of it. So when the fans found out the mastermind behind some of their favorite events was out of the picture, it was like there was a big hole left in the SoCal scene.
At first Richards was coy about what was next for him. The exact phrase he used in his farewell address was “an incredible new opportunity,” but there wasn’t much else. Now we know that Richards will join LiveStyle as president of LiveStyle North America.
LiveStyle is the new name for the recently bankrupt SFX Entertainment which was responsible for festivals such as Tomorrowworld. The fiasco surrounding Tomorrowworld is well known, but former AEG executive Randy Phillips is working hard to revitalize the company and bringing on Richards is a big step towards that goal.
Richards’ knowledge and experience with hosting events is undisputed, and with this new position there are plenty of things to hope for. Here are a few:
1. Los Angeles AF
Some people probably don’t remember, but HARD Summer used to happen in LA. Their brand was “L.A.’s festival”, and you could literally see the skyline from the festival. HARD won’t ever produce a large event in L.A. again because of it’s complicated past, but with Richards’ new job he might able to.
The ban surrounding large outdoor festivals in L.A. mainly deals with electronic music events; specifically raves. HARD has the reputation of a rave, but Richards’ always fought to change that reputation. In the HARD Summer 2015 trailer, Richards popped out of a plant to literally say “HARD Summer’s not a rave. It’s a music festival.”
Larger music festivals like F.Y.F. and Camp Flog Gnaw are still happening in DTLA, so with a new brand at his fingertips Richards might take the leap and produce a festival without single electronic artist. Rappers are always on HARD lineups, and Richards didn’t lose those contacts when he left.
Frankly any new events produced by Richards in LA would be awesome.
2. More Boats
HARD Summer may have been Richards’ flagship event, but Holy Ship! was his most innovative. Other than the eclectic lineups, Holy Ship! sparked a whole new community within dance music: Shipfam, and Shipfam runs deep. I myself have never attended Holy Ship!, but I went to a show with a friend of mine who has. When people saw him wearing his Holy Ship! hat, they immediately offered to buy us drinks, and they hung out with us all night. Shipfam is founded on being kind and having fun.
Live Nation owns HARD so they will continue to host Holy Ship!, but Holy Ship! is far from the only cruise ship festival anymore. LiveStyle could easily produce their own nautical festival, and it wouldn’t have to depart from Florida either. In previous interviews Richards expressed interest in bringing Holy Ship! to the Mediterranean. With LiveStyle that’s a possibility (even though the name would be different).
3. The Smaller, The Better
You may not have noticed, but the “as big as possible” attitude towards festivals is failing. So many giant festivals are disappearing (Tomorrowworld, Mysteryland, Wakarusa), and new mega-parties like Fyre Festival are proving to be empty ventures.
The huge brands aren’t immune to this shift either. EDC Vegas didn’t sell out this year, and inside sources told me that HARD Summer changed venues to San Manuel at the last minute because of disappointing ticket sales.
Now is an excellent time for LiveStyle to capitalize on this trend. Richards can use his connections within the artist community to curate serious lineups (as always), and find some great new venues at the same time.
Besides, smaller events are always cheaper which is a welcome change in the festival scene.
4. Camping or…..Glamping?
Part of the reason the “as big as possible” attitude towards festivals is failing is because camping festivals are becoming much more popular. These days there are way more people in the scene who prefer Lightning in a Bottle to EDC Vegas, and Insomniac is well aware of that. That’s why camping will be available at EDC Vegas in 2018.
LiveStyle needs to be aware of it too.
Promoters are businesses and businesses need to adapt to trends to survive. So if LiveStyle doesn’t want to end up like SFX, then camping festivals need to be on their radar.
HARD Summer had camping in 2016 and 2017 so Richards has experience with that kind of event. Plus, it’s not necessary for camping festivals to be super rugged either. Many people want to feel like their roughing it without sacrificing comfort so “glamping” festivals have started popping up as well.
“Glamping” is short for “glamour-camping”, and it would be cool to see how LiveStyle would handle such an event.
5. Change for the Better
The festival scene is in a period of transition right now. No one trend is dominating the scene the way giant raves were a few years ago, and that leaves event producers in a precarious position.
They could produce events based on nothing but turning a profit, or they could produce events that make the scene better for everyone. Better for fans, better for artists, and better for themselves.
Cover Photo By: Genaro Molina
Other Photos By: Rukes