Rest In Peace: Moshing

Hello and welcome to the final Advice column of the week. It’s the last the last full week of June and we are excited to share our third collaborative piece with Daniel Alvarez, attorney at law and music business aficionado. We will be working with Daniel a lot in the months ahead, and we think the perspective he has on the business today is one that can aide both artists and industry professionals. If you have any questions about the content of the blog, or if you would like more information regarding the distributional services offered by Haulix, please email james@haulix.com and share your thoughts. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

I have to admit something: I love being in the pit.  As a fan, there is nothing that connects you to another human more than one of your favorite bands belting away, while you try and survive the stampede of a circle pit. Getting smashed into the filthy ground in the middle of the twelfth breakdown is fantastic. NO, IT….IS….AWESOME!!! 

As a lawyer? Well, I hate moshing. Nothing makes me cringe more than watching what I used to love to do so very much, happen at a show for a band that I either manage or represent. Where I once saw youthful disregard, I now see little ticking liability time-bombs waiting to go off. Each hit that goes on, is like one more acknowledgement from the band or venue that they endorse your potential for injury and that is just not something I can risk for my clients. 

Whenever one of my groups hits the road, I get my best dad voice on and remind them of the dangers. One seemingly silly lawsuit can end it all – quickly. It is not worth it. In today’s litigious society, it is not necessarily your fans you have to worry about. It is their parents and the lawyers that advertise to them. Common sense tells you that there is NO question that you knew what you were doing when you jumped into the pit with Leroy, the guy with no rhythm but windmills for arms. It is hard to swallow that you think someone owes you money when Leroy breaks your nose while “dancing.” Yet, that is where we are.  

It doesn’t surprise me to see Warped Tour attempting to ban moshing and crowd surfing. It seems Kevin has been sued and he doesn’t like it. I can’t blame him. So if you are in a band, follow his lead. He is on to something. In fact let’s go a few steps further:

1. Form a Company to house your band and provide a layer of liability protection. If structured correctly, you could limit your liability to the company and not your selves.

2. If you can afford it, buy your company an umbrella liability policy. Make sure you disclose what you do for a living so they don’t try and deny a claim later. An umbrella policy is like a catch all insurance plan that steps in whenever someone makes a claim against you for an alleged negligent act.

3. Fair warning, my friend Brad Lehmann from Maylene and the Sons of Disaster thinks you may hate me for suggesting this one. He is probably right. Have a written band policy that everyone in the band signs, which acknowledges that you will not mosh or promote dangerous activity at a show. Date it, scan it and save it to a Dropbox file so it is always with you. While this is not perfect, it’s a layer of proof that shows no-moshing and ultimate fan safety is your policy and priority. Remember that your level of risk may be higher than someone else’s. Feel free to consult with your attorney or manager and come up with a policy that reflects you, but at a minimum, throw in some language that puts safety first. 

4. At shows, be vigilant. Encourage a safe environment. If someone falls or gets hurt, do something about. I don’t need you to jump in and start first aid, but I would like you to stop playing, call for the proper authorities and then resume playing when it appears everything is ok. You do not want to be on a witness stand being cross-examined about how you saw the fan get trampled and just kept playing. You and your band are done at that point. 

Listen, I know I am being the ultimate killjoy but this is our new reality. I remember when one of our bands was on a big run at the end of last year. A crewmember from the Headliner was overtaken by excitement and jumped into the crowd from the stage. A day later, their manager sent everyone on the tour a stern warning letter that such behavior would not be tolerated. My first reaction was, “please man! Chill out.” Stage diving is to rock shows, what air is to most living beings, I thought. But he was right! Too many people earn their livings on the road and because of that show to risk it all for a five second stage-dive. Ultimately though, it isn’t about money or jobs. It is about keeping people safe while doing what you love. 

So be safe in whatever the follow on craze to the mosh pit will be. In the mean time, I’ll be the old man at the back of the show wishing we could lay it down one last time. RIP to the mosh!

Danny Alvarez, Sr. is an attorney, music manager and business law professor based out of Tampa, Florida. He is the managing member of The Alvarez Legal Group, P.L. and President of The Vindicated Group, LLC. Danny has earned a Bachelors Degree in Journalism from The University of Florida, a Masters degree in Education from Troy State University, a Juris Doctor degree from Stetson College of Law and LL.M. (Masters in Law) in Estate Planning from the University of Miami School of Law. Danny focuses his legal practice on Entertainment, Business and Personal Injury Law and has clients as varied as actress/singer Brooke Hogan and bands such as Go Radio, Broadway and War Generation. Danny is also the full time manager for the up and coming band, Stages and Stereos and Tragic Hero Recording Artists, Illuminate Me. You can reach him at Dalvarez@alvarezlegal.com

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.