Music Industry

Published on October 6th, 2017 | by Alan Cross

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Concerts and Gun Control: A Conversation the U.S. (and Others) Need to Have

The emails have already started coming. “I’m on my way to a [music festival in the US] with my family, including kids. I’m worried. What precautions should I take?” Good question.

How do you defend a concert festival crowd against a psych sniper with automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition? This is the question that’s been asked by the concert industry and fans in the wake of the Las Vegas shootings. Salon believes that things cannot continue without an honest conversation about gun control in the US.

Two days after the mass shooting at Las Vegas’ Route 91 Harvest Festival that killed 59 people and injured over 500 additional concert-goers, it’s still difficult to find any words — much less the right words — to talk about what happened. How do you even begin to grapple with the sadness and horror? First-person recollections of fans and journalists fleeing the shooting are harrowing; the fear and panic leaps off the computer screen. Photos and video from the concert are even more horrifying, as they underscore the chaos and confusion that quickly ensued.

The Route 91 Harvest Festival wasn’t a new event — this year’s model was its fourth edition — and, by all accounts, it’s a well-run festival helmed by Live Nation. Plus, Las Vegas itself is used to hosting music festivals and large-scale events: Yearly events include the electronic music behemoth Electric Daisy Carnival, pop-leaning iHeartRadio Festival, rock ‘n’ roll-leaning Punk Rock Bowling and Psycho Las Vegas, and even the Academy of Country Music Awards. And music festivals have increasingly become part of U.S. concert culture: In 2015, Nielsen’s Audience Insights Report on Music Festivalsfound that 32 million people attend at least one music festival in the U.S. each year, with 46 percent of attendees falling in the 18-34 age range.

There’s a certain amount of trust that goes into attending any concert (or, really, any event in a public place). However, a music festival especially requires a covenant between organizers and attendees. The event often takes place outdoors — sometimes in an off-the-beaten-path place, but other times in parks or green spaces tucked away within cities — and draws thousands of people. Logistically, there are so many things that could go wrong; everyone involved has to work hard and have faith that everything will turn out okay. That music festivals are becoming more common means they feel like safe bets for a fun weekend.

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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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