By Lars Brandle

Originally Published in Billboard on September 5, 2017

It’s official: HARD founder Gary Richards has joined LiveStyle, where he takes duties as president of the EDM promoter’s North America activities.

Richards, who DJs under the moniker Destructo, founded HARD Events in 2007 and has spent the past decade creating and curating the company’s lineup of parties, which include the festivals HARD Summer, HARD Day of the Dead, and the Holy Ship cruise.

In 2012, Live Nation acquired HARD Events and Richards stayed on until August of this year, when he confirmed that his relationship with the live entertainment giant had ended. His jump to LiveStyle was the source of some conjecture at the time.

Randy Phillips, president/CEO of LiveStyle, said Richards was the perfect fit for the company, which emerged out of the troubled electronic music powerhouse SFX Entertainment.

“When Chuck Ciongoli and I took over the former SFX… we rebranded it LiveStyle to signal that a new vibrant business was emerging debt-free with some of the greatest assets in the live entertainment industry,” comments Phillips, the former AEG Live chief who helped lead SFX out of bankruptcy. “To complete our executive suite,” he adds, “we wanted to bring some real authenticity to the management of LiveStyle, and no single candidate to be the president of North America fulfills this role better than Gary Richards.”

Securing the talents of Richards was a ”delayed goal” for Phillips who admits he tried to cut a deal with him 10 years ago when he was running AEG Live. “Not only is he an accomplished working DJ, he is a very astute businessman with an affinity to his fellow artists.  With Gary on board, LiveStyle is prepared for creative and strategic growth in the years ahead.”

Richards intends to create new festival concepts and cruises with his new employers. “We will continue on the path that I created with the HARD and Holy Ship brands,” he enthuses in a statement.


By Jem Aswad

Originally Published in Variety on September 4, 2017

Gary Richards

Hard Events and Holy Ship! founder Gary Richards, who recently parted ways with Live Nation after five years, has been named North America president of LiveStyle, the company formed from post-bankruptcy SFXLiveStyle president/CEO Randy Phillips announced today. In the newly created position, Richards will be responsible for working with all of LiveStyle’s current U.S. festival operations, developing and launching new brands and activities on the West Coast.

Phillips commented, “When Chuck Ciongoli and I took over the former SFX, the global leader in electronic music festivals and the parent company of Beatport, we rebranded it LiveStyle to signal that a new vibrant business was emerging debt-free with some of the greatest assets in the live entertainment industry.  To complete our executive suite, we wanted to bring some real authenticity to the management of LiveStyle, and no single candidate to be the President of North America fulfills this role better than Gary Richards, of Hard and Holy Ship fame.  In fact, this is a delayed goal for me since I tried to make a deal with Gary 10 years ago while I was running AEG Live.  Not only is he an accomplished working DJ (DJ Destructo), he is a very astute businessman with an affinity to his fellow artists.”

Richards said, “Randy Phillips has been a trailblazer in the music and entertainment industry for as long as I can remember. Having known Randy personally for many years, I’m excited that the stars have aligned and I’m able to build a new platform for live music with him.  I look forward to coming on board as President of LiveStyle and have a much larger role to play in the music community. Their portfolio of brands such as React, Made Event/Electric Zoo, DDP and Beatport to name a few is an incredible place to start from and build. In addition, I plan to create new festival concepts and cruises at LiveStyle.”

Richards broadly hinted in an interview with Variety earlier this year that he’d be leaving Live Nation, and he made the announcement days before this year’s Hard Summer festival, which featured Snoop Dogg, Justice, Migos, Dog Blood (aka Skrillex and Boyz Noise), Bassnectar and many others. The festival had been marred by deaths in its two preceding years, but this summer’s installment — which underwent a last-minute venue change, moving from the Fontana Auto Club Speedway to the Live Nation’s Glen Helen Amphitheater — went comparatively smoothly, despite 19 hospitalizations and 107 arrests (actually those numbers are down from previous years). However, the festival drew just 77,500 people over two days, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department — a dramatic drop from 2016’s tally of around 146,000. However the festival received many positive reviews from media and attendees and Richards, who is a widely respected DJ operating under the name Destructo, played a well-attended valedictory set during the festival, which may be his last (owing to the terms of his deal with Live Nation).

Richards’ influence on the contemporary dance-music scene has been vast — Hard is of one of the genre’s biggest promotion companies and he’s a veteran of several record labels, as well as his frequent work as a DJ. After launching the original Electric Daisy Carnival in 1991, he handed off the brand to fellow dance maven and (sometimes) friendly rival Pasquale Rotella to take a job as Rick Rubin’s dance-music A&R at Def American Records. (Rotella has since developed Electric Daisy into North America’s biggest dance-music festival.) After several years at labels and a period of working with his brother Steven (who managed Slipknot and died of a brain tumor in 2004), Richards launched the first Hard show on New Year’s Eve, 2007. Over the ensuing years, the company’s rocket-like growth matched that of dance music, and it was purchased by Live Nation in 2012 for an undisclosed price; Rotella’s Insomniac Events came under the same roof the following year.Yet for all the success, Richards’ stint at Live Nation was rocky. Two concertgoers died of drug overdoses at 2015’s Hard Summer and three died last year; MDMA (aka ecstasy) toxicity, the main culprit, was exacerbated by heat of the Southern California summer sun. And his situation at Live Nation was complicated enormously by his ferocious rivalry with Rotella, which has flared into the open many times over the years.

Chuck Ciongoli, Randy Phillips​, Gary Richards & Made Event's Michael Julian ​ at "Electric Zoo: the 6th Boro" at Randall's Island Park in NYC.

From left: Chuck Ciongoli, Randy Phillips​, Gary Richards & LiveStyle/Made Event’s Michael Julian ​ at “Electric Zoo: the 6th Boro” at Randall’s Island Park in NYC. (Photo by aLIVE Coverage on behalf of ElectricZooFestival.com​)


By August Brown

Originally Published in Los Angeles Times on September 4, 2017

When Gary Richards walked off the stage after his DJ set at Hard Summer last month, he knew it would be his last performance at the festival he founded 10 years ago.

Just weeks later, however, Richards is ready to announce his new gig.

The promoter behind one of L.A.’s largest — and sometimes controversial — electronic dance music festivals will be joining the EDM firm LiveStyle as president of LiveStyle North America.

The new firm, led by former AEG executive Randy Phillips, is a resuscitated version of the bankrupt promoter SFX Entertainment, which produced a large coterie of EDM festivals and concerts around the world.

“It’s been a crazy 10 years, I don’t know if I’ve really processed it all yet,” Richards said. “I’m definitely looking forward to the future and taking on new tasks.”

Under Richards’ stewardship, Hard Events hosted popular festivals such as Hard Summer and also grew to encompass an in-demand dance cruise, Holy Ship. Hard Summer, despite some ups and downs, solidified itself as the definitive dance festival in L.A. It helped launch the careers of superstars such as Skrillex, Diplo and Deadmau5.

“I should be doing more than one show and one cruise,” Richards said. “Working with these guys, they have thousands of shows around the globe. I wanted to be involved with more fests and projects, and it seems like a natural progression.”

The move is a thorough reset for Richards after parting ways last month with Live Nation, the concert promotion behemoth that bought Hard Events in 2012.

In his new role, Richards will be tasked with creating and producing festivals in North America (concentrating on the West Coast) and consulting with LiveStyle’s global properties, which include major European, Asian and South American dance music festivals such as Electric Zoo, Life in Color, Defqon.1 and Mysteryland.

Richards’ move to LiveStyle arrived at an opportune time for each. LiveStyle — which also owns the music-download portal Beatport — emerged from the ashes of SFX Entertainment, the firm formed by embattled promoter Robert F.X. Sillerman that declared bankruptcy last year after a highly leveraged buying spree of regional dance music promoters.

Previously, Phillips was CEO of the music firm Global Entertainment after 13 years as president and CEO of AEG. He led the transition to LiveStyle after SFX’s bankruptcy, admitting that SFX’s old gold-rush mentality was “basically a stock play” more than an attempt to build a viable network of rave promoters.

“I don’t want to sugarcoat it,” Phillips said. “That was the original intent of [SFX]. What we’ve done [with LiveStyle] is create a corporate culture where there was none. The idiosyncrasy of [Richards] was what attracted me to bringing him in.”

Richards’ move to LiveStyle brings a proven, popular festival promoter into Phillips’ fold, where he hopes to create a viable third major concert promotion firm on the dance-music festival circuit in North America.

In an earlier interview with The Times this year, Richards admitted that he had already been reassessing his relationship with Live Nation, which also owns a large share of Insomniac, the Electric Daisy Carnival promoter founded by Richards’ longtime rival Pasquale Rotella.

“I just want to grow and be able to have more influence in the industry,” Richards said. “This company [LiveStyle] has multiple divisions like Hard instead of having one little division. Now I have a lot more babies to tend to.”

As a performing DJ as well, he feels he has unique insight on all sides of what makes a successful show. “With the right guidance, these things can all do really well, because I’ve been there,” he added.

Hard Summer’s rapid growth from a one-off New Year’s Eve party in 2007 to a defining SoCal event proved that Richards’ vision for a mix of EDM, hip-hop and underground club music could drive a devoted audience. His popular rave cruise Holy Ship was also a scene favorite.

At LiveStyle, Phillips said, Richards will bring that credibility and loyal crowd to the revamped firm, while getting a chance to start anew outside the Live Nation mantle.

Hard Summer (and its sister festival Hard Day of the Dead) had faced criticism from L.A. county officials after two fans died in 2015 after attending the event at the Pomona Fairplex. The fest then moved to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, where three fans died in 2016, prompting another move to the Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino just weeks before the 2017 edition (this year’s festival saw no reported deaths).

“There have been issues with EDM events in general, there have been deaths and we don’t shy away from that,” Phillips said. “But the way EDC was pushed out of L.A. into Las Vegas, I’m not sure that was good for L.A. The [economic] impact on Las Vegas is very substantial, and it was L.A. County’s loss that they couldn’t find a way to make that work.”

Could this mean a Richards return to L.A.?

“In Gary’s case, it did push him out to communities that want these events,” Phillips said. “But Gary is such a straight shooter and actually has a good relationship with the county supervisors, I believe he will get back into L.A. and do events here.”

Live Nation will maintain control of the Hard Events brands after Richards’ departure. Hard Summer fans waiting for Richards’ next projects can likely expect a new summer festival from him in the near future.

“I’m definitely thinking about it, that’s part of the reason for the change,” Richards said. “After 10 years I’ve been doing Hard, it’s time for something new. It’s nice to be able to hit reset and start something new that’s not cemented in people’s heads. I can take all that experience and make it better.”

It may take time to get back to the scale of Hard Summer, and LiveStyle isn’t yet in a position to rival Live Nation or AEG (the latter of which is the parent company of Goldenvoice, which produces the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival).

But in the dance music sphere, where LiveStyle is already well-established in Europe and elsewhere, it could quickly be a major player in the U.S. with West Coast complements to fests like Electric Zoo in New York and Spring Awakening in Chicago.

Both Richards and Phillips said that the fresh start should mean a return of Richards’ festival vision to Los Angeles, and a clean slate for each promoter.

“I’ll give it to you in three words: smaller, better and then bigger,” Phillips said.


Event photos available here.

Credit: aLIVE Coverage on behalf of ElectricZooFestival.com


Social media handle and hashtag to share are:
One of LiveStyle‘s flagship festivals, ELECTRIC ZOO, completed its ninth annual turn as Electric Zoo: The 6th Boro on Randall’s Island in NYC over this past Labor Day Weekend. Over three days (September 1-3), 90,000+ fans attended New York’s largest and longest-running electronic music festival which was headlined by DJ Snake, Above & Beyond, deadmau5 & Eric Prydz, ZEDD, Galantis and Armin van Buuren.
NYC’s biggest Labor Day Weekend party took place in the 6th Boro, where fans danced to some of the world’s biggest artists across five never-before-seen stunning stages reflecting zoo and NYC themes (an elephant, aquarium and 6th Boro subway stop) with breathtaking light shows and spectacular pyrotechnics, interactive installations and art, 30+ New York’s best food vendors and much more. New friends and magical memories were created in this utopian dance-tropolis under the lights of the New York City skyline.
Attendees were also treated to curated stages by European nightlife brands Awakenings and the ‘Bollywood’ themed elrow (for their only North American festival appearance) as well as artists Jauz and Dada Life, who used ELECTRIC ZOO to catapult their respective brands, Off The Deep End and Dada Life Compound, into the festival space. In all, almost 100 DJs performed over the weekend.
ELECTRIC ZOO: THE 6th BORO-an homage to NYC, the Greatest City In The World-proved to be the most successful Electric Zoo since 2014 when LiveStyle (previously SFX) added the festival and its parent company Made Event to its portfolio. The brand has enjoyed two years of sustained growth and is proof that electronic music is alive and well in the Greater New York Metropolitan area.
Look for ELECTRIC ZOO to return in 2018 to celebrate its 10-year anniversary.
Check out ELECTRIC ZOO: THE 6th BORO reactions from the press and performers:
“…Electric Zoo 2017 brought sunny skies, comfortable dancing temperatures and plenty of memorable moments from the heavy bass drops of Sub Focus to the 138-bpm, ’90s-style trance of Armin van Buuren. Even with a massive crowd and some mud from the previous day’s rain, the last day of the 6th Boro-as this year was themed-turned upside down, inside out and grooved to the endless beats. “
 – Zoe Levy, Time Out New York (9/4/17)
“Day 3 brought Elrow to the Hilltop Stage, a three-hour Dixon set, deadmau5and Eric Prydz going back-to-back to close out the mainstage and leaving all mainstream music behind, Jauz  hosting his own Off The Deep End stage and much more…
you will be hard pressed to find someone frowning at the end of that.”
– Ryan Middleton, Billboard (9/4/17)
“There are five stages at EZoo 2017, and on Friday 28 different acts–including Snails, DJ Snake, Dada Life, and Sasha & John Digweed–made the big crowds shuffle, bounce, head-bang, mosh, or bliss out, depending. The main stage comes complete with a massive elephant head, and the two other smaller outdoor venues feature an aquatic theme (the “Riverside” stage) and a “gritty graffiti” vibe at 6 Pointz…EZoo has the whole festival thing down pat, and the day was a total blast.”
 – Scott Lynch, Gothamist (9/2/17)
“Electric Zoo: The 6th Boro absolutely exploded with talent over the weekend as DJ Snake, Galantis, Dada Life, Sasha & John Digweed, Above & Beyond, ZEDD, Excision, Seven Lions, Armin van Buuren, Jauz, deadmau5 b2b Eric Prydz and so many more hit the stage! That’s really just scratching the surface on the amazing mix of music and artists the festival experienced with its 9th installment.”
– Katie Powell, Your EDM (9/4/17)
“You’re beautiful @electriczoony”
Armin van Buuren, via Twitter (9/2/17)
“Was fun being back in NYC with @sashaofficial for @electriczoony tonight.”
John Digweed, via Twitter (9/1/17)
About Electric Zoo
Established in 2009 by Made Event, the internationally renowned Electric Zoo Festival is one of New York City’s largest music festivals and features the top names in electronic music, bringing a wide variety of acts from around the world and across the spectrum of electronic music’s various sub-genres. International editions of Electric Zoo have taken place in Mexico City, Tokyo, Shanghai and São Paulo, with further expansion underway.
About Made Event
Made Event, a LiveStyle, Inc. company, is a premier producer of electronic music events and the creator of the Electric Zoo Festival. Having produced hundreds of memorable events in New York City, Miami and elsewhere around the globe, Made Event continues to set the bar for quality electronic music events. For more info, please visit www.MadeEvent.com.
About LiveStyle
LiveStyle, Inc. is the largest global producer of live events and digital entertainment content focused on electronic music culture. LiveStyle’s mission is to provide electronic music fans with the best possible live experiences, music discovery, media and digital connectivity. LiveStyle produces and promotes a growing portfolio of world-class festivals and live events that includes leading brands such as Mysteryland, Sensation, Electric Zoo, Disco Donnie Presents, Life in Color, Rock in Rio, Nature One, Mayday, Decibel, Q-Dance, Awakenings, and React Presents, as well as the innovative ticketing service Paylogic. In 2013, LiveStyle launched TomorrowWorld, the first international version of the Tomorrowland festival, and we continue to work with our partners to bring Tomorrowland to new territories outside of Europe and to return to the USA and Brazil. LiveStyle also owns and operates Beatport, the trusted global home of electronic music where fans, DJs, and creators connect, discover and participate in the evolution of dance music culture.
For information on Electric Zoo, please visitwww.electriczoofestival.com.
Official images for ELECTRIC ZOO available here.
Credit: aLIVE Coverage on behalf of www.electriczoofestival.com
Press Releases & More Information Here
For more information on ELECTRIC ZOO, contact:
MSO PR 818-380-0400
Alexandra Greenberg [email protected]