The latest news from the world of Taylor Swift? Unfortunately, it’s not a hot new boyfriend or gorgeously attired magazine cover. The superstar is currently making headlines for what seems to be a nasty lawsuit over a canceled live date last year.
The long and the short of it: Swift was invited to headline Ottawa’s Capital Hoedown music festival last August, and was paid a reported $2.5 million for the booking. Due to various problems, the organizers of the event were forced to cancel the event, and ticketholders were issued refunds.
Now, the ticket company is going after Swift in a recently filed lawsuit, saying that she walked away free and clear with the money—without ever having to lift a finger—while they were stuck refunding $1.8 million in ticket sales.
Swift’s camp told TMZ that she never contracted with the ticket company and has not seen the lawsuit yet. Still, this entire story sounds ugly.
The question remains—is Swift really liable in this position? Los Angeles entertainment attorney Michael Ackerman explains that, from what he can discern of the suit, it may not be that simple.
Although it may seem that Swift earned $2.5 million scot-free, there is much more going on behind the scenes that fans may not realize. “In the boldface headline it seems very black and white: She made 2.5 million dollars, and I got nothing,” Ackerman notes.
But…“She did do something—she held the date,” he states, explaining that it is standard for an artist to collect a percentage of their fee ahead of an appearance.
After all, “That’s a date that she’s not taking other work. There may not be time to rebook."
Ackerman also adds that simply preparing for a superstar’s live appearance can incur considerable expenses. Securing travel, equipment, rentals, and other necessities for the ultimately canceled Canadian date likely cost Swift’s camp quite a bit of money.
As for the validity of the lawsuit, Ackerman is surprised that the ticket company is going after Swift. “It's a novel theory to claw back money from an artist as a ticket-issuing company. They should seek that money from the promoter.”
If Swift did not contract with the ticket company—as her reps attest—she probably has a valid “privity of contract” claim. That means only the contracting parties—in this case, likely Swift and the promoter of the event--can sue each other.
That said, “Typically it's the people with the pockets that they go after,” notes Ackerman.
Will Swift likely win the case, then? “The practical reality is that she's going to have to defend this lawsuit,” Ackerman says. “There may be no liability, but it’s not worth the time and money to go fight it. It's often times easier to reach some sort of settlement.”