By: Ernesto Rivero, Member-Candidate, J.D. Candidate, May 2020, St. Thomas University School of Law.

Two electronic-dance music festivals are promoting and hosting their respective events on identical weekends, at the same waterfront location in Miami. However, the venue is only suitable for one. The conflict arose after Ultra Music Festival was relocated to Virginia Key, being forced out of its home location for over 18 years in Bayfront Park Miami. The Miami City Commission of Planning and Zoning rejected the location contract for the festival’s return for 2019 as a response to years of complaining from downtown Miami residents. The excessively loud music blasting from the festival, overwhelming traffic, and pollution were all reasons argued by residents to force the removal from Bayfront Park.

For the past two years, Rapture Music Festival has called the beautiful Virginia Key its home. The festival’s main objective is to connect human souls with nature through electronic music by educating attendees about ocean conservation and sustainability. The festival had already paid its down payment and accepted to continue hosting their event in Virginia Key through 2020. After Rapture felt they were unjustly replaced by Ultra’s festival and bumped off of Virginia Key Beach they filed a cease and desist letter, to no avail. As a result, the owners realized the pioneer and powerful dance music empire, Ultra, would not back down so they filed suit in Federal court. The complaint alleges “[t]heir acts, deliberate silences and threats have been effective in eliminating competition . . . Individually and together, the defendants are conspiring in restraint of trade and/or [to] create a monopoly. The city [of Miami] [and] Ultra . . . are reducing competition, controlling prices, and causing Rapture and its guest and vendors substantial harm”. Ultimately, Rapture is suing over the right to host their event and halt Ultra from carrying out their music festival on the same weekend.

The Ultra Music Festival has been a prominent entertainment attraction in Miami for years. Another incentive is the large economic benefit the city generates from the Ultra’s attendees and tourism – last year 165,000 attended generating roughly $79 million in revenue for the Miami-Dade County economy. The Rapture festival attendees do not come even close to Ultra’s numbers. As of now the future of Rapture and the powerful Ultra Music Festival in Virginia Key lies at the fate of the federal judicial system.