Fans Have Rights, Too!

You and I have certain rights when we attend music concerts and festivals. Conscientious venue managers, performers, promoters, medical professionals and security firms respect those rights and work hard to make sure our concert experience is enjoyable and safe.

Nevertheless, fans are often are killed at rock concerts or festivals, or hurt through no fault of their own. People like you and me may find ourselves in poor or non-existent crowd safety environments at rock/rap/pop/etc. gigs that cause discomfort, or worse. A conservative estimate would place the number of fans injured at shows over the last several years at tens of thousands. Approximately 7,000 Woodstock í94 fans sought first aid, alone.

Unfortunately, the rock concert industry in general, and the U.S. industry in particular, refuse to take the necessary action to make things better.

You probably didnít know this, but in the U.S.--where rock and roll, rap, pop, etc. was born--there is not one concert industry crowd safety guideline, rule, or standard for concert and festival events. Compare that fact with the planning that goes into professional sports events, parades, festivals and other public assembly events. Maybe, thatís why claims and lawsuits brought by injured U.S. concertgoers are at historic levels.

Currently, the brightest spots are in Britain and Ireland where cooperative efforts between the government safety professionals and rock concert industries members have resulted in workable outdoor festival safety guidelines. Their efforts represent an impressive start. Nevertheless, more needs to be done.

Until that day comes in the U.S and elsewhere around the world, you will to have to fight for your right to enjoy concerts in a safe and fun environment. That is why we developed this simple Bill of Rights listing your basic rights at a concert. They apply whether you are in reserved seating, raving or moshing, and whether you are into heavy metal, punk, rap, pop or whatever.

(Let us know what you think about our suggestions. Better yet, give us your ideas and we will post them at

Concertgoer's Bill of Rights

1.To enjoy a concert in a safe environment.
2.To be treated with respect by facility management, concert security, entertainers, and promoters (regardless or race, sex, appearance, or disability).
3.To be informed of the responsibilities of a ticketholder and of the concert facilityís house rules prior to the purchase of a ticket. (And, to be notified in a timely manner of changes in the performance, door opening, or other information affecting the safety and enjoyment of a concert.)
4.To have posted at a concert, the names and addresses of the facility management, performers' agent(s), promoter(s) and concert security firm.

(Suggestion: Print a copy of the Concertgoerís Bill of Rights and take it to your local venues. Ask each manager if he/she will post it at future shows. Do you have additions or comments you want to add? Let us hear from you.)

Some things to consider before your next concert

∑ What if youíre injured? If you are hurt at a concert (before during or after the show), get medical attention at the gig, nearby hospital, or from your doctor. If you do get help at the show, ask that a written report be made of your injury and treatment. You will have a chance to read the report before signing it. But, do not sign it if the report has not been completed by the attendant, especially the section that describes your injury and cause. Most of the time, people in the first aid office at a gig work for the promoter or the venue. Unfortunately, it may be in their interest to persuade you, or pressure you, to say that your injury is your fault. Do not assume your injury is your fault (including: moshing, altercations, trips and falls, crowd crushes and sexual molestation). If you say it is, they will use that against you if you make a claim for medical costs, etc.
∑ Festival Seating/General Admission: Be wary of standing room only festival seating/general admission areas. They can be fun, but too often these environments are allowed to become very dangerous, if not deadly. Many promoters and bands like festival seating because it is more profitable. (As every promoter and venue operator knows, it can be a great way to overcrowd or oversell a show.) There are safety standards for festival seating by the National Fire Protection Association and in many U.S. cities.

∑ Moshing: Bands, venues, concert security and promoters know mosh pits can become unsafe and deadly, but too often do nothing about it. Crowd Management Strategies was first to setup moshing guidelines. The safest venues refer to them. Next time you go to a concert to mosh, or if you find yourself near the stage, let us know if they use any of our recommended techniques.

In 1996, Bernadette O'Brien, 17, was killed in a festival seating/mosh pit crowd crush at a Smashing Pumpkins concert in Dublin, Ireland. In 1997, a 16-year-old girl was killed similarily at a Die Toten Hosen concert in Stuettgart, Germany. Simple safety precautions would have spared these and many other lives.

∑ Crowd crushes: Crowd surges and crushes happen all the time at concerts were crowd safety is lax. If you find yourself getting crushed by a festival seating/general admission or moshing crowd (inside or outside of the concert), get over to the edge of the crowd as soon as possible. Then get mad. You probably lost out on having a good time at the concert because the people who put it on did not care about your safety. Document your experience by contacting your local fire marshal or community safety inspector. Or, tell us "What happened to you?"
∑ Sexual molestation/assault: If you are sexually molested or assaulted at a concert (in the mosh pit or elsewhere), you can do something about it. And you should, because it is a crime. If this happens to you, contact a uniformed police officer (often found near the entrance), fire official or first aid worker. Have a report made. Then tell your parents or an adult friend. Depending on the serious nature of your incident, you may need to contact a lawyer. You have a right to be protected at a show from such abuse. Many young women are raising their voices on this issue.
∑ Dehydration: Drink plenty of fluids (preferably water, juices and other drinks without caffeine.) and have something to eat. This is advice to heed if the gig is outdoors (do not forget the sun screen), or you intend to dance, mosh or pogo. Following this suggestion will reduce your chances of fainting or becoming disoriented. Besides, the prices charged for concert drink and food can be a rip-off.
∑ Noise, as in music: "If its too loud, youíre too old" is a great slogan. However, one of the first signs of old age is poor hearing -- so donít grow old before your time. Hearing damage is cumulative. That means injuries tend not heal. Wearing earplugs protects your ears and still lets you hear the music loud and clear.
∑ Drugs: If you plan to consume drugs--alcohol, controlled substances or illegal substances -- be very careful. The ingestion of drugs (during and after the show) can compromise your safety and the safety of others around you. Public assembly event planners say that the potential for disorder increases greatly when alcohol is consumed at an event. They will also tell you that the sale of alcohol is very lucrative.
∑ Who are you? Donít forget to carry proper identification and important phone numbers, or medical information with you. (allergy problems, medication data, etc.)
Note: Crowd Management Strategies prepared a similar safety
tips list for the June/July 1997 issue of Girlsí Life magazine.

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