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News April 2, 2024

Billy McFarland Talks Fyre Fest 2: ‘Paying Everybody Back Is The Most Important Thing For Me’

Senior Journalist, B2B
Billy McFarland Talks Fyre Fest 2: ‘Paying Everybody Back Is The Most Important Thing For Me’

WATCH: Billy McFarland on episode 1 of The Music Network Podcast.

America loves a comeback story. Remember when TV celebrity Martha Stewart was sent to jail for insider trading, or action star Wesley Snipes’ stint in the clink for failing to pay federal income tax returns? Oscar winner Leo DiCaprio depicted Jordan Belfort for Wolf of Wall Street. Heck, even the shock-haired boxing promoter Don King saw the inside of prison for killing not one but two men.

All of them rehabilitated through the court of public opinion.

Billy McFarland wants to be the latest comeback king.

The U.S. businessman, for his hand in the unmitigated disaster that was 2017’s Fyre Fest, has the unenviable reputation as a crook, a fraudster.

The festival was so epic a fail, the tale of jaw-dropping ineptitude was retold by the Netflix documentary, The Greatest Party That Never Happened.

It’s a story of two guys, McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, ideas men with a vision to deliver a festival in paradise, the Bahamas.

The concept never reached the delivery stage, as the lads burned through money (Kendall Jenner was reportedly paid US$250,000 for a single Instagram post spruiking the event) and time.

When the punters flew in for the big day, a fiasco awaited. Social media lit up. McFarland went down, completing four years of a six-year sentence.

Now for the comeback.

McFarland wants to make amends, and make dreams come true with Fyre Festival 2.

Speaking with The Brag Media managing director Luke Girgis and editor-in-chief Poppy Reid, McFarland shared his thoughts and ambitions, but kept details to a minimum.

Paying back vendors and coming out with a clean reputation is at the top of his bucket list.

“Paying everybody back is the most important thing for me,” he says in the latest episode of The Music Network podcast. “I think I violated the trust of people who supported me for four or five years.”

Billy McFarland, organiser of the ill-fated Fyre Festival

The idea of Fyre 2 “is still there. People want to escape reality for three days,” he insists.

Any publicity, it is often said, is good publicity. McFarland is a believer.

“I think the demand for Fyre has almost increased since COVID,” he tells the podcast.

The concept of 100,000 folks in a field staring at a stage “has dwindled.” Party goers today are “more interested in experiences and adventures and what happens when you do these things with other people.”

McFarland insists there’s proof of appetite in the brand, despite the stinker that was Fyre Festival.

A presale went ahead last August with “no information and a bad selfie video and it sold out in a day. I think the demand is there,” he claims, though the volume and price wasn’t discussed.

Marketing for a second edition will lean on “parody, self-deprecation” but “still showing the adventure of a Fyre Festival,” says McFarland, who is almost two years removed from jail.

The game-changer in all this could be a reputable partner, an events specialist who McFarland says is quietly organising everything in the background.

It’s a secret, a riddle wrapped in an NDA, he insists.

An announcement is to be made in the northern spring, apparently, with the date announce for early winter 2025, the identify of the partner named, a Caribbean location, and a lineup.

Fyre 2 is about “an experience with music being the backdrop.”

McFarland is confident that, when the publicity machine cranks into gear, artists will fall over themselves to play.

Andy King, the events manager and self-styled Fyre “survivor,” who viewers of the doco will remember was willing to take one for the team, is “helping out,” says McFarland, though in what capacity remains to be seen.

And what’s the biggest fear of reigniting the Fyre Festival brand? “I’m scared of losing the magic that the chaos of Fyre 1 created,” he reckons, “by making it so professional. The thrill of doing something that you would never do without Fyre.”

McFarland also talks Kanye West, Ja Rule, 50 Cent and more. Watch and listen below.


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