Reynolds Says Picnic Not In Danger

Irish promoter John Reynolds says his dispute with the country’s royalty collection agency hasn’t put this year’s Electric Picnic in jeopardy and it will go ahead as planned.

Responding to newspaper reports claiming the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) "may proceed with an application" to restrain his company from promoting live music shows, he issued a statement insisting that none of his events was in danger.

"Ticketmaster was flooded with calls, people made calls to agents in the U.K., and anonymous faxes with negative headlines were sent to a host of agents and artists involved," Reynolds told Ireland’s Sunday Business Post. "I had to call all the agents, explain the case, and tell them IMRO are not trying to injunct the event."

The press release claims he had offered and IMRO had refused the euro 432,741 (US$675,335) under dispute, although on June 16 Justice Peter Kelly ordered Reynolds’ POD Concerts to deposit that amount with Dublin’s Commercial Court. He also adjourned the matter for three weeks to give both parties the chance to see if a resolution could be achieved via mediation.

The court had heard how the dispute between IMRO and POD goes back to 2004. Brian O’Moore SC, acting on behalf of the collection agency, said Reynolds had either failed to reply to correspondence, made a range of excuses, or promised to deal with the matter tomorrow.

"Tomorrow never comes," he continued, saying efforts to make direct contact with the promoter had been thwarted because IMRO was always told that he was busy or out of the country or, on one occasion, that he had "a heavy cold."

He said at some point POD suggested it might challenge the tariff imposed by IMRO but no challenge had been brought to date.

The collection agency says it’s seeking euro 180,000 (US$280,313) for the three Electric Picnic events of 2004, 2005 and 2006. But so far it’s only received two post-dated cheques for a total of about euro 80,000, which have been sent back because IMRO isn’t prepared to accept cheques on that basis.

It also says POD had taken until February 2008 to supply the returns for Garden Party 2006 and 2007, Love Box 2007 and Electric Picnic 2007. IMRO estimates those events total up to another euro 246,844 (US$384,385) but says none has been paid. It accused POD of being in "persistent breach" of the license requirements since Electric Picnic in 2004.

Martin Hayden SC, for POD Concerts, said his side acknowledged there was an issue between the parties and were not seeking to avoid it, and that POD is prepared to lodge the total amount of disputed funds and let the matter go to mediation.

He said Reynolds has never refused to engage with the matter but there was no agreement on the amount of royalties and there was a difference in how events in Ireland and England were treated.

There are two sides to the story, he explained, although Justice Kelly pointed out that there are two sides to every story and his concern was to have the matter determined as speedily and in as cost-effective a manner as possible.

The 35,000-capacity Electric Picnic, which is at Stradbally Hall, County Laois, August 29-31, has already sold out. The acts on the bill include Underworld, Grinderman, George Clinton & The P-Funk Allstars, Franz Ferdinand, The Roots, Wilco, My Bloody Valentine and Duffy.