With great influence, currency and power come great responsibility. Compared to the average person, artists, musicians and actors do in fact have moral obligations towards their fans. For instance, Travis Scott and the mass casualty incident that occurred at Astroworld in November this year.

If you’ve been following Travis Scott throughout the year, you probably already know the broad strokes of the tragedy that occurred on the 8th of November, but here’s a quick introduction: the Astroworld festival was first held in 2018 at NRG Park in Houston. Scott was a huge fan of the amusement park (which closed in 2005) as it inspired his 2018 album. In addition, the festivals have been said to have a specific theme that is particular to Scott’s aesthetic. A merger of Marilyn Manson and Willy Wonka, rides, and swings along with magicians and dancers in full mirror suits. There was an intentional eeriness to it. A murky twist that made otherwise rides suitable for children, appropriate for Scott’s audience that is predominantly young adults.

The causes of this tragedy were entirely due to mundane negligence.

Since 2018, the festival has grown significantly. From 35 000 people attending then, to now 50 000 attendees, forcing the concert to become a two-day event. Back in May, it was said by several outlets that 100 000 tickets sold out in less than an hour. This brings into question what the real number of attendees was. It’s not surprising that 10 people were reported to have died and many injured when the crowd was compressed toward the stage at the  Astroworld concert. It’s more surprising that tragedies like this are not prevented.

Despite the outlandish and thankfully short-lived satanism conspiracy theories, the causes of this tragedy were entirely due to mundane negligence. When examining the principles of crowd management and what may have gone wrong at the festival, there are two things that stand out.  The crowd was plagued with disorderly and even violent elements. According to the Guardian, there was an operations plan in place however, it did not include protocols for a mass crowd outpour. When crowd management is properly adhered to, the staff can identify the characteristics and frequency of the crowd and respond in accordance with a prearranged strategy.

What was more alarming about the management of this event, was that there weren’t enough medics on duty. Those present were not adequately trained, making it almost impossible to walk through the crowds to people in need of help. While the industry requirement is to ensure that for every 250 people there is one crowd manager, there are strict guidelines as to what kind of training those managers must have. Some organizations even offer 15 to 30 minutes of online course training, which underlines the little to no regard the organizer’s had for the safety of the people who attend the event.

The tragedy that happened at the Astroworld concert could have been easily prevented had there been a careful and calculated plan

It’s been reported that Scott tried to stop the concert numerous times in an attempt to draw attention to audience members needing help from medics on duty but he was not aware of the severeness of what was going on. In as much as he may have attempted to stop the show, too many people lost their lives for Scott and his team to not have made responsible decisions.

Scott may say that he cares about his fans, but he has on many occasions has famously encouraged “raging” at his shows. Not only that but the musician does not institute age limits and openly markets himself to younger audiences. In 2017, he encouraged a fan to jump from a second-floor balcony during a show in New York City. It’s uncertain if the fan suffered any injuries, but this is just one of the many reckless acts he has initiated.

The tragedy that happened at the Astroworld concert could have been easily prevented had there been a careful and calculated plan regarding the availability of medics on duty, adequate training for medics and maybe a little compassion shown from Travis Scott and his team would have gone a long way. To be fair we could say that with all the blinding lights, hazy smoke, and an elevated platform, Scott could not have been able to grasp the severity of what was happening in the crowd.  But his crew and management team could. They were on the ground and bearing witness to the cries for help, suffocation, and gruesome scenes of many fans fighting for their lives. Even though Scott was on stage, we have seen many artists over the years pause their performance when a fan needs help or is in distress. In 2011 at London’s Hammersmith Apollo performance, the singer Adele paused the show when someone in the crowd fainted. It was only when medics arrived and the fan was taken care of did she proceed with the performance.

We have seen many artists over the years pause their performance when a fan needs help or is in distress

In the greater scheme of things, this conversation is not about the satanism conspiracy theories that have made their rounds on the internet or music or even unruly crowds. It is about professional responsibility of which Travis Scott is failing dismally at this. He may have a ‘cool’ job, but it comes with a great deal of responsibility and in this case safety and security. In the same way that traditional businesses must ensure that their building is safe to occupy, and offices aren’t fired hazards, artists have a moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to make sure their shows or events are safe for attendees. This is why his brief pauses during the show are not only to blame but were damning and ineffective.

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