Artists, listen. Especially for those of you in the African music market that have acquired some notoriety, there is a probability that you will decide, at some point, to produce your own music concerts. There is a benefit to doing this if you know what you are doing. You essentially eliminate the middle-man or woman, the promoter. Also, you can directly negotiate with potential brand sponsors and build a long-term relationship with these brands if you are able to give them real brand exposure. You can also control your brand messaging by carefully choosing which colleagues you decide to have as your opening acts. Since many of you tend to run independent labels and also have one or two emerging acts signed to your labels, producing your own event also lets you provide a platform for your artists to get noticed.
In short, there are many advantages to producing an event yourself, if you know what you are doing. An artist like Mr. Eazi, for example, has a history as a successful promoter in college, and he has been able to translate those skills to his own successful shows.
Here’s the deal, though. If you decide to step into the role of a promoter, you need to realize there are potential liability issues you will face and be prepared to deal with them.
A key one and of paramount concern to you and your patrons is safety. Under no circumstances should fans/guests show up for a good time and instead end up assaulted, sexually harassed, and/or raped. That is a terrible and horrible outcome. It is your absolute duty to protect your patrons.
Further, when there are reports that such protection did not occur, your response shouldn’t be an insensitive one like Phyno’s that says, well I did A, B, C, D, and now you claim 20 women were actually raped, a month later. How Come?” Really, Phyno?
That response and attitude really stinks and is offensive. If you do not know how to be an event organizer/promoter, stick to being a recording artist. Phyno needs to learn how to speak or hire people who do. He consistently fails on brand communication whenever a crisis hits his camp. He would have been alright with his statement except when he decided to switch to the “How Come?” and it is no surprise his fans and the public at large are reacting angrily.
A little discussion on the law and the responsibility of event organizers to ensure the safety of their guests under Nigerian and American Tort Law.
Artist turned promoters when you act as an event organizer and invite your fans to attend a venue for an event, their status on that venue is that of an “invitee.” Invitees are divided into two categories.
a) The first category are persons invited, whether explicit or implied, to a land i.e. venue held open to the public. For example, churches, museums, parks, stadiums etc.
b) The second category are persons who enter for the specific purpose connected with your business or other interests pertaining to you. So, assume you are a music producer and you own your studio. If an artist rents space and records his/her music in your studio, that artist is an invitee. If you are an employee and you show up to your employer’s building to work, you are an invitee.
What obligations, if any, does Phyno owe to his invitees?
Answer: Phyno has a duty to warn of nonobvious, dangerous conditions known to Phyno and to use ordinary care in the business he conducts on that venue. In addition, Phyno has a duty to discover dangerous conditions on that venue and once he discovers them, then he has a responsibility to make the venue safe by fixing the issues.
When I speak of Licensee, it is not in the context of a licensing agreement or licensing deals as I have in the past. Here, I speak of a situation where a person (licensee) visits your venue/land/premise, with your permission, for his/her own purpose or business.
For example, if Phyno was an artist performing and did not organize the event, what would be his status at the venue? Answer: Licensee
If a person has no permission to be on your premises, then he or she is trespassing. You can ask that person to leave, depending on the establishment, or you can call the police.
Assumption of Risk
Another close issue usually associated with cases where patrons are injured when they attend a concert is what is called “an assumption of risk.” This simply means a patron assumes responsibility for what may occur to them when they attend a concert. These “assumptions of risks” clauses are typically found at the back of your tickets (in western and some African countries) when you park in a garage or attend concerts like Phyno’s, among other places.
The key issue when analyzing cases dealing with invitees and injuries they sustain on your premise is a legal concept under a negligence theory of tort law called “foreseeability.”
You invited fans to come have a great time and enjoy your music at your rap concert. You had a duty of care to ensure their safety at your venue per the invitee explanation above. As part of that duty to ensure their safety, is it foreseeable that at your rap concert, men will be drinking? Is it foreseeable they will become drunk and aggressive and sexually harass female fans at your concert? Is it also foreseeable that they may even rape these female fans?
What time did Phyno have his concert? A lot of these concerts start late in the evening and go until the early morning hours. In fact, many start in the AM. People are drinking, using drugs, and overall stoned. Is it foreseeable that kind of atmosphere can result in 20 women being raped?
Is it foreseeable that your security may not have complete control of the crowd? The answer is yes, yes, and yes, especially in Nigeria. So, these 20 women that have been allegedly raped could potentially sue Phyno in civil court, while the criminal case is ongoing for his failure to provide a safe venue.
Let’s see what happens. In the meantime, Phyno, not everytime you become unnecessarily defensive and angry as a response when a crisis hits. Take a chill pill and rethink your strategy. You come off very insensitive, especially to your female fans.
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