Legal Drama

AML Exclusive: The Real Deal About Wizkid’s Toronto “Cancelled” Concert, MMG’s View

MMG’s Publicity representative, Ms. Tiffany Ford of Ford Publicity, got in touch with me regarding the Wizkid “cancelled” concert in Toronto this past weekend. If you all recall, I mentioned I logged on to twitter over the weekend and was greeted by angry tweets on my timeline with allegations that over 1500+ persons, with validly purchased tickets, were locked out at the recently held concert in Toronto organized by MMG. I also discussed the need for promoters, in general, to plan and be organized to avoid legal liability.  Specific to possible legal claims that stem from cancelled concerts, as we have seen in Rick Ross (recently sued in New York for $2million over cancelled Nigerian concert), Sugaland, J-Lo, Mos-Def, P-Square among many other music celebs, I discussed the legal claim of  breach of contract. As you all know or should know, Plaintiffs and Defendants have their side of the story in any law suit and then there are the facts of what actually happened. A courtroom is where the parties can fight about it or enter a settlement agreement to avoid trial, should it make sense to do so.

As to the release below,  from the organizers view, they  appeared to have taken all measures possible including hiring 7police officers for the evening. Is there more they could have done? Was it forseeable that all of these chaos could have occured? AML Industry event organizers, feel free to chime in.

AML Tip #1: In most contracts, there is a clause called “Force Majeure.” The Force Majeure clause protects parties in a contractual agreement from liability where situations outside their control i.e. natural disasters and other acts of nature/God prevent them from fulfilling the contract terms. Where the act is based on human error that can be avoided, there is no exoneration from liability barring other defenses available in breach of contract cases.  In the Sugaland case mentioned above ,which I discussed on fashionentlaw.com, the weather was really bad. Nevertheless, the band decided to play on. Their contract gave them the opportunity to refuse to play where bad weather i.e. “act of God” was in effect. Again they decided to play on. The stage they were to perform on collapsed due to bad weather conditions and a few people died while some were injured. They were still sued but they rebutted with the force majeure clause i.e. “Act of God” as a defense.

AML Tip #2: Promoters, get your lawyers involved from day one. More so than the artist, there are many that can sue you when all hell breaks loose. (They include:) injured persons at your event venue, the artist and label, third party vendors providing services and so much more. It is essential you protect yourself from any and all persons you do business with.

MMG, as mentioned got in touch, and I requested a press statement that answered specific questions on the who, what, why, when, how leading up to the police showing up. Below is what they have to say.

“On behalf of Microbell Media Group, we would like to provide details on what has occurred on Friday July 20, 2012 at Lagondola Hall in Toronto, Canada for Wizkid and Skales first Canadian concert.

In Toronto, there has been an increased number of shootings, especially the week of the concert. That evening alone there was 3 separate shootings in Toronto. 2 of which were only 5 minutes and 15 minutes away on the same street. Unfortunately, with large African-Canadian crowds, police are very keen on policing these types of events. Due to the increase scrutiny and racial profiling, Microbell Media Group paid hefty amount to the Metropolitan Toronto Police to have 7 off duty police officers assist with security. The officers were in complete police uniforms and worked alongside a small private security team, also hired by Microbell Media Group.
According to the head Security guard, 540 people were counted as entered into the venue.
Doors open at 10pm, but most people came between 11:30 and 12am. Their lateness, and impatience to enter did not help security’s attempt to get a large crowd into the doors. The head security guard told MMG that the crowds started to rush the door, and this is when law enforcement called in back up to control the crowds. Once police have control of the situation, it is completely in their hands, as MMG does not have the power to enforce anything.
Thankfully, MMG hired 7 police officers, because when back up came, they spoke with the already stationed cops and agreed not to shut down the concert. 
Wizkid and Skales performed to over 500 people, whilst from what security has told MMG, 500 people were outside.Estimations on how many people were outdoors varies, but it was definitely was not 2000.
Video of Wizkid and Skales in Toronto- July 20th Concert: http://korrectnation.com/?p=32400
MMG has printed only 800 tickets for sale.

The venue holds 800-1000 people in a concert setting. MMG has proof of this from the owners of the venue.
Example Twitter Rumour:
@bennybing – Owner of Gidilounge
Stated “venue holds 250, over 2000 sold” , “Police Shut down #wizkid concert”.
Facts: Benny Bing was a supporter listed on the earlier press release. His website Gidilounge also hosted a wizkid Azonto dance competition. He unfortunately came with the large crowds and got hold up outdoors. That could be quite embarrassing for him. Clearly he chose to vent untrue statements on Twitter, with such a great reach of followers of his website and twitter account. The concert went on, and was not oversold.
Wizkid went on to do a successful show in Vancouver the following evening (July 21), and then came back to Toronto (July 22) to do a party with Toronto fans that had tickets to the concert show, and were not able to enter.
Photos of Wizkid Party with Fans in Toronto (Sunday) http://tdotpics.com/ALBUM.php?photo_category=48
EME/Konvict Wizkid, and Skales management are absolutely satisfied with this past weekend’s Whirl of Wizkid events. They understand how social media is a driver of rumours, hence why you had seen some of these tweets. Unfortunately, the industry is competitive, and although it is true many fans were not able to enter into the concert, security is of the up most importance. Fans are able to get refunds through the people they bought tickets from, or directly from MMG by emailing:microbellmediagroup@gmail.com.
MMG, also made sure to make up to fans with tickets, by organizing a party with Wizkid on the following. We’ve heard that many were grateful and pleased to be able to be closer to Wizkid and Skales, and able to take pictures with them.
There was absolutely no contractual breach.
More information on Toronto’s Current Crisis:
The city of Toronto asked the Provincial, and Federal governments for more money to hire more special task force members to curb gun violence, just today. With the demographics Wizkid attracts, MMG made the right chose to invest in 7 police officers for the event. The event would have been shut down without that investment, due mainly to racial profiling.
The crowd issues at the door, along with law enforcement preventing more people from entering the venue was completely out of MMG’s control. . .”

-Uduak
@uduaklaw

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ABOUT THE FOUNDER

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at https://msuduak.com.

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