Originally published in Pollstar on December 21, 2018

By Francisco Rendon


With one year in the books as LiveStyle’s President of North America, Gary Richards spoke to Pollstar today about the inaugural Friendship Cruise, which docked Dec. 15, and his plans for 2019.
The trip on the Celebrity Equinox was put on by LiveStyle’s AMFAMFAMF Presents (All My Friends), which also staged the first All My Friends Music Festival in Los Angeles Aug. 18-19.
Before being hired at LiveStyle, Richards – who also performs as DJ Destructo – founded HARD Events, which is now owned by Live Nation, and created the iconic EDM festival HARD Summer and the Let’s Be Friends tour.
Richards told Pollstar the Friendship Cruise never really had much of an onsale. He had email addresses for many of the friends he had made from the Holy Ship! cruises, so he just reached out to them personally and offered an early crack at tickets. The response was so overwhelming that the event sold out mostly by presale, without a lineup.
“What carried over [from Holy Ship! to Friendship] were the people that were tightest throughout the years, and that’s what made it super special,” Richards told Pollstar. “This is the first time, in my entire career, we’ve had zero damage to the ship. The people were so respectful, the staff of the cruise ship was blown away. They couldn’t believe how amazing the Friendship family was.”
The cruise embarked from Miami and voyaged to Coco Cay, Bahamas for two private island beach parties, with all kinds of musical performances and special events along the way from Dec. 11-15. While Richards has tons of experience creating and running various kinds of events, he said he previously had always used partners for the cruises and had never had so much freedom in changing the schedule and arranging spontaneous events.
“I always had these ideas (for cruise-specific events) and they were always shut down. But now it all came to fruition and I think the fans really appreciated it,” Richards said.
“In the beginning we had too many DJs performing in a small area. I went to [these artists] and I told them I knew they missed their set and asked if they wanted to perform in another area. And they said they wanted to perform in the smallest place in the boat you could play. So we found the staff bar for the people that work on the boat. They ended up grabbing Boyz Noize, Busy P and dj-ed for the staff of the boat, it was in this smokey little dungeon bar, it was incredible. There were all these things we did that wouldn’t have happened in the past. ”
Richards spoke to Pollstar while he was on a boat, looking at possible ships for the 2019 edition of the Friendship Cruise, indicating that the voyage will no doubt be returning. Another big part of LiveStyle’s 2019 plans are its festivals, which include Electric Zoo in New York; Spring Awakening in Chicago; Ubbi Dubbi in Forth Worth, Texas; Freaky Deaky in Houston; Sunset Music Festival in Tampa, Fla.; and, of course, All My Friends Music Festival in Los Angeles.
“Now I’ve got a year-plus under my belt. I understand the company, the numbers, and most importantly, I understand the people and their position. I’ve really incorporated [everything we can do] and we’re putting it all together.”
Richards said the success of his events in his first year with LiveStyle is a testament to the people that have supported him and he looks forward to sharing new information, including some festival lineups, soon.
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