Stone Music Festival – Legal Battles and Internal Turmoil

The fresh-faced and brash Stone Music Festival has again made headlines for all the wrong reasons today, first attempting to distance themselves from promoter Richard Cartwright, then threatening legal action against music website Tone Deaf for printing comments by promoter Andrew McManus, which their lawyers have deemed as being “false and misleading”.

This morning, Stone Music Festival took aim at promoter Richard Cartwright, whose company Platinum Entertainment is a presenting partner of the one-off event. A report by The Daily Telegraph notes that Cartwright was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to cocaine charges.

From the Telegraph’s report, it would seem that Cartwright’s past indiscretions have led to Stone Music Festival organisers attempting to distance themselves from Cartwright. A spokesperson for Stone Music Festival explained that Cartwright was not directly involved in the operation of the inaugural event and merely serves as the go-between for the festival and 1974 Australian exploitation film Stone:

“Richard Cartwright’s role in the event is solely as the management of the brand rights between Stone the movie and Stone the music festival. Richard has no direct involvement in the operations and management of the music event or with the artists.”

The same spokesperson went on to credit personnel of presenting partner Ardline Media with securing talent both local and international. However, Stone Music Festival’s website also lists Platinum Entertainment as one of its presenting partners and the Telegraph points out that these latest comments conflict with this previous statement from Stone Music, which notes Cartwright direct involvement:

“An event of this magnitude is the largest that Richard Cartwright has been personally involved with … [Cartwright is a] component of a broader group … involved in sport, music and entertainment transactions globally … staging the festival.”

Whether that means Cartwright helped obtain any of the acts appearing at Stone Music Festival is unclear. A previous article from Tone Deaf also credits Ardline Media with booking Van Halen, although it does inspire a modicum of surprise and trepidation that such a small booking company managed to obtain the services of the band, who have a history of cancelling appearance on more prominent promoters.

This afternoon things got even more heated, when Tone Deaf published an article detailing their dealings with Stone Music Festival in regards to Andrew McManus’s statements. The story is as follows. On Monday, 18th February Tone Deaf printed a now-edited article containing disparaging remarks made by McManus regarding the legitimacy of Stone Music Festival, which Music Feeds also reported on.

“Smells very fishy? Unknown promoters… Be very careful punters… you have been warned here!” cautioned McManus on the festival’s Facebook page. McManus later added, via his own Facebook page, “[The promoters have] been saying that they have my acts which we are announcing next week… All I can say is be very, very careful and stand by for 60 minutes expose next weekend.”

On Wednesday, 20th February, Tone Deaf printed a now-deleted article (temporary web cache version here) that contained Stone Music Festival organisers response to McManus, which claimed McManus Entertainment has nothing to do with the event:

“It would be prudent for Mr. McManus to check his facts before making such erroneous and public statements … no artists involved with the Stone Music Festival are involved with Mr. McManus.”

As Tone Deaf have stated in their new article on Stone Music Festival’s legal action, the music website feels they have not acted illegally (seconded by Feeds) but have nonetheless complied with Stone Music Festival’s lawyer’s requests:

We were a little surprised, and amused then, when this morning, Tone Deaf received a letter from lawyers representing Stone Music Festival, and SEQ; the financier behind the festival.

The letter outlined the statements that they believe are false and misleading, and have asked Tone Deaf to remove the comments by 5pm as they believe the statements have caused, and is continuing to cause, loss and damage to the business of their clients.

We can certainly agree that the comments made by McManus are less than glowing of the festival, but they are McManus’ comments. If you want to send the lawyers out, we’d direct you in his direction.

We have removed the statements in good will, but we hope that the promoters behind Stone Music Festival will seek to engage the music media in the future, rather than sending legal letters around.

So just who are Stone Music Festival, and why are they so quick to lash out? Whatever the truth of the matter, Australian act Baby Animals have tested the water and already decided to pull out, with frontwoman Suzie DeMarchi posting a statement on their Facebook page that “it just wasn’t feeling right”:

To cut a very long story short, we have decided to withdrawal from the up-coming STONEFEST. It all became too difficult, too quickly. We hope not to disappoint too many of our supporters with this news, but it just wasn’t feeling right to us. We will however make it up to you with a brand new single in April, plus a new album (finally) and national tour shortly after. Big year ahead! suze x

Must Read