One of the most spectacular business failures in history. How are preparations going for the entertainment repeat?

Luc Williams

Probably not, because when I go to the Fyre Festival website, I see some advertising photos, a lot of merch for sale, information that the first hundred tickets have been sold out and that’s it. No preparation photos, no social media links, nothing. Maybe it would seem mysterious and exciting, but after watching the Netflix documentary “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” (2019, dir. Chris Smith) – it’s rather terrifying.

Be like Pablo Escobar

Simtha’s documentary is a record of one of the most spectacular business failures in history, which put its originator behind bars. For many months, it looked identical to the second time around – the public knew that something was being organized, thousands of people bought tickets for a lot of money, and the organizers did not release any preparation materials until the day of the event.

What exactly was, or rather was, the Fyre Festival? It is an original idea of ​​American entrepreneur Billy McFarland, co-organized by rapper Ja Rule. By design – an extraordinary, luxurious event on an island in the Bahamas, purchased especially for this occasion, which once belonged to the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Performances by stars such as Blink 182, Migos and Major Lazer were announced. Top models such as Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski appeared in Fyre Festivale advertisements. The tickets cost a lot, but how much would they cost if they included a flight to the island on a private plane?

A terrible, growing, inevitable apocalypse

For the public opinion, nothing happened around the festival for a long time, until finally there were voices of many impatient people who bought ticket packages and did not receive any information until the last moment. Where is the meeting point for the flight? What are the accommodations like? Will all concerts take place? What is the exact address of the location? Nothing was known.

From the side of the organizing team – until the day of the festival, there was a terrible, growing, inevitable apocalypse. McFarland extracted more money from sponsors who were charmed by him, which he used to cover current needs, such as paying local workers who were trying to quickly build the festival grounds. He was getting information from all sides, from all the specialists he had hired, that it was impossible to succeed. He had one answer to this – “don’t show me the problems, show me the solutions.”

It was supposed to be a private plane, it was a tragedy

Ultimately, McFarland ended up with $26 million in debt for the venture. People who purchased tickets (some packages cost $12,000!) did not ultimately get to the island by private plane. Most didn’t get in at all. Those who arrived in the first round were transported collectively by plane in a rather suspicious condition. When they arrived, they were plied with tequila for hours, and they stubbornly refused to show them where to sleep. When they finally reached them, it turned out that they were completely soaked by the downpour, half-open tents with water-soaked mattresses, and there were not enough of them for everyone. To survive the night, festival participants adopted the law of the bush, fighting for the last scraps of free space. They had no electricity, no running water, and no information on how to get out of this nightmare. The next day they fought for any chance of returning home.

Of course, most artists withdrew from participating in the event when they began to hear rumors about this pyramid failure. The festival has been canceled. People who worked on the organization paid for this adventure with mental problems such as PTSD. Lawsuits poured in. Ja Rule was acquitted by the court, while Billy McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison. He left after four and, as we already know, started promoting the vision of the second edition of the festival.

Elon Musk, who didn’t make it

The second edition of Fyre Festival is, according to August announcements, to take place on December 6, 2024 in the Caribbean. However, this time the organizers reserved the right to change the date and location. If it is true that all 100 tickets from the pool released in the first stage of sales were sold out, it means that there were people who, despite the spectacular disaster that was the first edition, decided to give McFarland a second chance. It was probably not a good choice – so far there is no information about the next pools of the planned 777 tickets. In general, there is no information.

Such a story could only happen in specific cultural conditions. We can see several phenomena here – the ease with which people fall for the promise of luxury, the capitalist style of work (“don’t show me the problems, show me the solutions”) and the great social naivety that makes us worship the so-called visionaries. Billy McFarland is the reverse of Elon Musk. Elon Musk, who didn’t make it.


Luc's expertise lies in assisting students from a myriad of disciplines to refine and enhance their thesis work with clarity and impact. His methodical approach and the knack for simplifying complex information make him an invaluable ally for any thesis writer.