Fyre Festival founder tells employees they will ‘not be paid’ in leaked audio

Rapper Ja Rule visits the SiriusXM Studios on November 9, 2015 in New York City. Cindy Ord/Getty Images

The company behind Fyre Festival, the luxuriously advertised music festival in the Bahamas that never happened, will not be paying its employees for their work on the chaotic, failed festival.

Billy McFarland, the 25-year-old founder of the festival, told Fyre Media employees that they would not be paid for the past two weeks of their work.

Vice acquired audio from a 10-minute conference call, held last Friday, with the staff of Fyre media. Ja Rule, co-founder of the festival, was on the call as a listener.

READ MORE: Fyre Festival hit with $100M lawsuit by celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos

“I’m on the phone, but I can barely hear you all because of this f***ing hum,” Ja Rule said, before putting himself on mute.

According to LinkedIn, the company had between 11 and 50 employees at one point. Vice notes that most of them have quit by now.

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McFarland offered to allow the employees to stay on with his organization in unpaid positions, which gives them the opportunity to grow the business until it gains enough revenue for them to resume being paid.

“After conferring with our counsel and all financial people, unfortunately, we are not able to proceed with payroll,” McFarland said on the internal call. “We’re not firing anyone, we’re just letting you know that there will be no payroll in the short term.”

He continued, “I understand that this is not an ideal situation for everybody, and this will likely cause a lot of you to resign, which we totally get and understand. That said, if you want to stick with us, we’d love to have you and we’d love to work together and hunker down and get back to a place where everything resumes to business as usual as usual.”

READ MORE: Fyre Festival organizers hit with another class-action lawsuit

During the call, employees asked why they weren’t being fired so they could collect unemployment benefits. “If that impacts you, you can email me,” McFarland said.

An employee also raised the issue of pay stubs which is a way they might prove they’ve been working for the company. A former employee told Vice that Fyre Media had stopped issuing pay stubs in October and paid its employees in wire transfers and cash.

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McFarland said he’d address proof of employment in a follow-up email.

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He also announced that everyone should have received an emailed “preservation notice” warning them not to delete or remove any files related to the several multi-million-dollar lawsuits filed against the company in the past month.

The primary role of the Fyre Media employees, according to Vice, was “building a celebrity and talent booking app the festival was intended to promote.” The app never happened because the festival itself never happened.

WATCH BELOW: Fyre Festival descends into chaos, frustration, leaving rich festival-goers angry

Click to play video: 'Fyre Festival descends into chaos, frustration, leaving rich festival-goers angry'
Fyre Festival descends into chaos, frustration, leaving rich festival-goers angry

The Fyre Festival founders Ja Rule, McFarland and Fyre Media are the subjects of a $100-million lawsuit filed at the end of April in California by celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos

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The suit seeks damages of at least $100 million on behalf of Daniel Jung and other attendees. The suit anticipates “more than 150 plaintiffs.”

They were also hit with a second high-profile class-action lawsuit filed by lawyer John Girardi and attendees Chelsea Chinery, Shannon McAuliffe and Desiree Flores who are suing over breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and fraud.

READ MORE: J.K. Rowling pleads with fans not to buy stolen handwritten ‘Harry Potter’ prequel

On May 10, the latest case was filed against the festival co-founders in Manhattan Supreme Court. The new suit alleges that Ja Rule and McFarland have defaulted on their $3-million loan to New York-based EHL Funding LLC, which put up funds for the festival.

They’ve paid $1 million but stopped making their payments on April 21, the suit alleges, according to Variety.

The Bahamas-based festival made global headlines at the end of April when pictures, videos and personal testimonies from the festival site depicted the festival’s disastrous organization, with many claims of no running water, catering only offering bread, cheese and salad and crowded airports.

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Tickets for the festival ranged from $1,000 to $12,000 with acts such as Migos and Major Lazer booked to play.

Listen to the audio of the conference call below.


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