In part two of his op-ed series, Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman responds to criticism of his previous opinion piece and shares some of the initiatives he's starting to make his tour, and our scene, a safer place for both fans and musicians.
I was hoping to make this a three-part op-ed piece, but I am going to go straight to part three. The feedback from part one was interesting: I want to thank everyone who reached out, with both positive and negative responses to what I wrote. There are a couple of things I feel need clarifying.
Some walked away with the mindset that all I was trying to do was protect my brand. You are sadly mistaken. Plain and simple, I am trying to make this world I have been a part of for 35 years continue to exist. For the most part, this world has been for the fringe, the outcasts, musicians, artists and the rest of us that needed a place to fit in. It has been a “fairly” safe place that allowed us to live the way we wanted. I hope it is here for another 135 years. This is not the first time it has hit a rocky patch. We didn’t expect others to fix our problems—we did it ourselves. My suggestion about going to the police didn’t go over well: I realized when I was most of your ages, I didn’t trust them, either. Through the years however, like anything else, I’ve met some good ones and bad ones.
The other mindset was that I am victim blaming. I assure you that with anything brought to my attention, I have done everything possible within the law, to remove within my abilities, anyone we feel could be a problem to the scene. However, getting to the facts in this world is very difficult, and once again I will not move to the side of “guilty until proven innocent.”
If someone in our world approaches you in any way that makes you feel uncomfortable, take a screenshot of that person’s remarks, photos, comments etc. Do not respond to that person. Save this screenshot in a folder. It makes sense, but so many people say, “I forgot to save it.” This is then considered hearsay. When you take the screenshot, get the information of the sender if possible, email address, Twitter name, phone number, etc.
In the next couple of months, I am working on something that will be explained below, and this information will be important to have. Once again, this is important because I have people that check into these things and sometimes, for some reason, people make things up and take attention from the real victims.
When a person makes up false accusations, that makes them a “cyberbully.” Laws against cyberbullying are getting stronger, and I am a big advocate of helping make this as big a crime as punching someone in the face. If it was proven cyberbullying was behind a person’s suicide, they should be charged with manslaughter.
When an accusation is made, don’t jump on the accusatory bandwagon immediately. Stand down for a second. If you are not the accuser or the person with the photos, stay out of the way for a minute. You are not being any help.
Here is the outline of the plan I will be working to implement over the next six months. If you have better ideas, I encourage you to start your own programs, outreach or advocacy. If you plan on just being a whiner, I, along with many others, are just getting tired of you. When my first op-ed came out and I got some negative responses, I encouraged people to email me directly and start a discussion. Only a few were actually willing to do that. I want to thank those who did; they had great input. A couple will now be part of a group to help make things better. I would especially like to thank Danny Samet, a tour manager who had many great observations and suggestions. It will take many people like him involved with this project to make it a success.
Here is the plan:
- At this point we are reaching out to many organizations that focus on sexual abuse, cyberbullying, predator awareness and teen suicide to encourage them to come out to Warped Tour this summer. Pick up their information and put it in a safe place, use it if you ever need to.
- I have started to speak to many artists, managers, labels and other people in our world about shooting a number of PSAs for a soon-to-be-named program. I will ask those who choose to participate to have them on a splash page for anyone trying to enter their sites. It may get repetitive, but at this point, it’s needed.
- Being In A Band 101: We are not preparing our bands for this world. I am developing a course that any band or artist will be required to attend before they are put on a national tour. This course will be taught by professionals in the field of adolescent behavior, artists who have been there, have possibly had transgressions and how to avoid the mistakes they made, with the possibility that the “scared straight” approach will help with people entering our world. I will be speaking to people all summer to get them onboard. Hopefully, they will agree this course is as important as social media promotion 101—or some other things young bands have to learn.
- In addition, I am going to reach out to YouTube, Twitter and the management companies who work with young personalities to implement this program in their worlds. At this point, the YouTubers are living in a fantasy world and are paid by these companies to pitch products. Many drop out of high school, gain the illusion of power and then when the real world comes into play, many have no ability on how to handle it.
- I am looking for an organization or hotline to partner with in the future, one that will encourage you to contact them if you ever feel threatened by anyone within this world we live in.
I speak to so many parents who have just given up monitoring or being involved with their kids and the internet, because you are smarter than all of us and we can’t keep up with technology. It is not that we don’t want to; our brains do not process things the way yours does. You can bypass any security setting if you choose, hack into sites, create phantom accounts and personalities. Most parents gave up trying to figure this out. You won: Now you just need to figure out how you can safely manage the online world you so easily navigate. Regardless if it’s online or the real world, there are truly sick people out there who know how to manipulate you and we hear about it everyday. Again, I implore you to be careful.
This is what I can do. No one person can solve this problem, but I am hoping others will join me to do what we can. I cannot change the problems of the world. But if we can help one person, it will be worthwhile.