HARD Founder Gary Richards to Leave Live Nation and Holy Ship Cruise
HARD founder Gary Richards has confirmed that his relationship with Live Nation has ended, and that he will no longer attend or curate HARD parties, including Holy Ship!, after this weekend's 10th Anniversary HARD Summer festival.
"I am leaving Live Nation after this week's Hard event to pursue an incredible new opportunity that I will share with everyone in the weeks to come," the post reads. "Accordingly, I will not be attending or curating the next Holy Ship cruise event in 2018."
The HARD brand and its events will continue under Live Nation's direction, although it remains to be seen who will head the projects. LA Weekly, citing anonymous sources, reports that Richards will work with Live Nation competitor LiveStyle, a rebranding of Robert Sillerman's former EDM event promotions company SFX Entertainment, which filed for bankruptcy in 2015.
Rumors began circulating that Richards, aka Destructo, was not booked for this year's Holy Ship sailing, and ticket buyers were not pleased. The rumor was fueled by a recent tweet from Boys Noize, an artist known to have a strong relationship with Richards, who is currently booked to play HARD Summer and has frequently played Holy Ship! in the past. Some Holy Ship! fans have said these rumors were shared with them by artists who have previously performed at the event.
Beloved by hordes of faithful Holy Ship! fans who call themselves "Ship Fam," Richards founded HARD Events and has spent the last 10 years creating and curating the company's unique dance concerts. In 2012, Live Nation acquired HARD Events and kept Richards on. His initial five-year contract came to its close and was not renewed. Even when he spoke to Variety in April, he seemed doubtful that he'd continue.
"I think that HARD has grown by leaps and bounds," Richards is quoted, "and Live Nation has given me a platform to expand monetarily in things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was funding everything. But then again, there are other forces at play here that are running the electronic scene in different directions than me, and they kind of battle with me and that part of it’s not fun — and it’s unnecessary."
HARD fans have been tweeting the hashtag #NoGaryNoShip at Live Nation. Boys Noize shared a petition where fans can urge Live Nation to add Richards to the bill.
"Each year, Holyship, which was founded by Gary, brings in crowds from all over the world in excess of 5-10 thousand people per year, for ship alone," the petition reads. "The Base Cost of attendance is at least a thousand dollars (US) per person, and much much more in merchandise, food, drinks, and other sources of revenue. By signing this pledge, this family has agreed to either no longer attend Holyship, or severely curtail our spending, which WILL cost you millions."
As of press time, 1,810 people had signed the petition, which has set a goal of 1,000 signatures.
Billboard Dance has reached out to Live Nation and LiveStyle for comment. Read Boys Noise's tweet and Richards' official statement below.