An Enumclaw-raised singer is suing a national entertainment promoter for allegedly poaching the musicians and venues she was gathering together for an all-female music festival.
According to court documents, filed in the Davidson County Chancery Court, Nashville, Tennessee, on May 7, Rae Solomon officially announced she was organizing the Zenitheve Music Festival, “a music festival dedicated to celebrating female music artists, promoting gender equality in the music industry, and ending sex discrimination and sexual harassment in the music industry,” in March 2018.
The tentative plan was to stage the festival in Chicago in May 2019, and a venue was booked late June 2018.
In May 2018, Live Nation Entertainment formed the Women Nation Fund to “provide access to capital for underrepresented female entrepreneurs,” its website reads.
Solomon, a country music singer, applied for funding for Zenitheve through the WNF. Her application was initially denied, but Live Nation reached out to Solomon to discuss the festival a month later.
For roughly two months, Live Nation asked her questions regarding potential artists, venues, and other business plans, Solomon’s complaint reads, which she gladly provided.
“At that point, I had no reason to believe that anything would happen, other than them actually partnering on the festival with us,” Solomon said in a May 23 interview. “Unfortunately, we found out later we were mistaken.”
When Solomon reached out to Live Nation in September 2018 to see if the company needed any more information before deciding whether or not to fund the music festival, the company replied that “if Live Nation was interested in an all-female music festival, they would probably just put it on themselves,” the complaint reads.
Solomon alleges Live Nation announced the Country LakeShake, a Chicago music festival in June 2019.
“Of the six female artists booked for the Country LakeShake, five had been tentatively booked… for Zenitheve,” the complaint reads, all names that were given to Live Nation during its discussions with Solomon. “Due to time and distance constraints on artists when they enter into appearance contracts, called ‘radius clauses,’ Zenitheve’s proposed opening in Chicago in May 2019 was eviscerated.”
Solomon is asking for a jury trial and an estimated $25 million in compensatory damages, but she left open the possibility of settling the case.
“My goal is and always has been to put on this festival, but the deeper reason is to change the way this industry works in the way that it is treating its women. It’s well documented, the disparity between the treatment of men and women in country music,” she said. “That’s what my eye has been on this whole time, and the means to the end is what is it. However we can get there and make that happen is what I’m hoping for.”
Live Nation declined to comment on the case.
Solomon lived in Enumclaw as a child until she graduated from the Seattle Christian School and moved with her family. She now resides in Nashville.
Along with a copy of the complaint, Solomon sent along copies of emails sent between her and Live Nation as evidence to her claims.
Some details noted in the complaint appear to match up with the emails provided. For example, an Aug. 9 email from Solomon to Live Nation contains details concerning Zenitheve, including several names of potential artists for “a solid lineup” (three of which who were later booked for Country LakeShake) and noting Solomon had already booked a Chicago venue.
Other emails demonstrate Live Nation’s enthusiasm for the idea of Zenitheve, with staff using phrases like they “really enjoyed our discussion,” “we love the mission and vision,” and “you clearly have the passion, determination and know-how to execute a breakthrough women’s festival event.”
But other claims are not supported by these emails.
In the complaint, Solomon claims Live Nation said if they were interested in an all-female music festival, “they would probably just put it on themselves,” though none of the emails contain this or similar language.
In the interview, she also claimed Live Nation representatives said things like Zenitheve was “right down the middle of the fairway,” that the concert was “exactly what they were looking for,” language and phrases not found in the provided emails.
Solomon said that she and her lawyers agreed to keep the more damning emails close to their chest until they can secure a jury trial.
“We have an abundance of evidence supporting all the things we’re saying and all the claims we have, and I’m very much looking forward to presenting all that evidence to a jury,” she said.