Stone Music Festival has only recently popped onto the radar of the music loving public, but in the six short days since the first acts on the lineup were announced it has already attracted its fair share of controversy.

Some have questioned the need for another festival given the current economic climate, others have been quick to point out that headliners Van Halen have a patchy history when it comes to actually turning up to the concerts they’ve been booked for.

But none was more vocal in his scepticism of the festival than well known Aussie promoter Andrew McManus. McManus was vocal in his opposition to the festival and even took the unusual step to publicly make statements on the Stone Music Festival’s Facebook page with a range of allegations against the festival urging punters to be careful.

The move was made all the more unusual given the McManus himself has a less than spotless track record, but that’s a discussion for another day.

On February 18th, Tone Deaf reproduced Andrew McManus’s comments on the festival, as part of our ongoing coverage of the festival and the general live music community in Australia. Everyone is of course intrigued when a new player emerges in the fiercely competitive festival market, and given the popularity of those articles it seems our readers were also intrigued.

The festival was quick to respond to McManus’ comments, alleging that his views were wrong in a press statement circulated to the media. “It would be prudent for Mr. McManus to check his facts before making such erroneous and public statements,” the statement read, adding that, ”no artists involved with the Stone Music Festival are involved with Mr. McManus.”

Since then, Stone Music Festival have added even more acts to their lineup, and lost another who said that the festival “just didn’t feel right”.

With the festival only two months away, the promoters must be busy trying to get everything in order so to pull off a successful launch, but the statements by McManus seem to have dwelled on their minds.

We were a little surprised, and amused then, when this morning, Tone Deaf received a letter from lawyers representing Stone Music Festival and SEQ; the financier behind the festival.

The letter outlined the statements that they believe are false and misleading, and have asked Tone Deaf to remove the comments by 5pm as they believe the statements have caused, and is continuing to cause, loss and damage to the business of their clients.

We can certainly agree that the comments made by McManus are less than glowing of the festival, but they are McManus’ comments. If you want to send the lawyers out, we’d direct you in his direction.

Of course, if you’ve already gone to the extraordinary step of sending legal letters out to music publications that have reported on his statements, you’ve probably already thought of that.

But more than that, if you want to change the tone of the discussion surrounding your festival, all you have to do is reach out. We’d be more than happy to talk to the promoters behind Stone Music Festival, in fact we already sent an invitation to them a few days ago.

We never heard back, but the offer still stands.

We’ve sent a copy of the letter off to our lawyers to have a read, but we’ve already removed the statements from the website. However, we still believe we haven’t done anything wrong.

We have removed the statements in good will, but we hope that the promoters behind Stone Music Festival will seek to engage the music media in the future, rather than sending legal letters around.

New players in an already tumultuous sector of the music industry are of course going to get tongues wagging, especially when they promise so much so quickly. If the promoters of Stone Music Festival want to play with the big players, they’ll need to learn to grow thicker skin. One thing Australian promoters are not afraid of is having a go at their competitors.

Today, more allegations about the personalities behind the festival and the associated film have surfaced, including by News Limited who assert there may be a criminal past. We’ll be holding back on that story until we hear back from the lawyers, but it does raise more questions than it answers.

In the meantime, it’s only taken six days for these promoters to go from obscurity, to announcing a new festival, to sending out legal letters to the media. I sincerely hope they make better use of their next six.

Nicholas Jones

A copy of the letter is below.

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