The internet was abuzz yesterday with rumors that HARD founder, Gary Richards, was going to end his 5-year relationship with Live Nation, and Richards confirmed the rumors last night in a Facebook post. By leaving Live Nation, Richards will no longer curate or attend HARD events, including the Holy Ship!, after this weekend’s 10th Anniversary celebration of 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,” Richards said in his Facebook post. “Accordingly, I will not be attending or curating the next Holy Ship cruise event in 2018.”
Live Nation still owns the HARD brand, so the events will continue under their direction. It is unknown at this time who will head the projects and curate the events. Although unconfirmed, Richards’ “incredible new opportunity” seems to be a new gig with Live Nation’s competitor, LiveStyle, formerly known as SFX Entertainment.
Richards founded HARD Events in 2007 and has spent the last decade curating as well as creating the brand’s popular events. HARD Events was acquired by Live Nation in 2012, and Richards signed a five-year contract with the company. His five-year contract recently came to an end and was not renewed by Live Nation.
He said the following to Variety in April, “I think that HARD has grown by leaps and bounds 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.”
Rumors began circulating when Destructo, Richards’ artist name, was not booked for this year’s Holy Ship! cruise. The rumor was fueled by a tweet from an artist that has a strong relationship with Richards, Boyz Noize, who is booked to play this weekend’s HARD Summer event and has played the Holy Ship! cruises numerous times in the past. Richards is beloved by Holy Ship! fans known as “Ship Fam.” Richards’ Ship Fam have been tweeting at Live Nation #NoGaryNoShip, and Boys Noize started a petition that the Ship Fam can sign urging Live Nation to add Destructo to the lineup.
“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,” says the petition. “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.”