Billboard Touring Conference: Warped Tour's Kevin Lyman Laments 'Dangerous' Internet Outrage Culture

 Billboard Touring and Conference Awards
Michael Seto

"10 Questions" with Kevin Lyman (Founder, Warped Tour/4fini Productions) at the Billboard Touring and Conference Awards at the Roosevelt Hotel, New York City. 

"If you're easily offended, you might want to leave."

That's how Vans Warped Tour and 4fini Productions founder Kevin Lyman started his remarks during a "10 Questions With..." discussion at the Billboard Touring Conference in New York City on Wednesday. After touching on topics ranging from the tour's ecological footprint to how he hired a human cannonball to launch over the stage one year, Lyman eventually addressed, albeit indirectly, some of the controversies surrounding his traveling punk festival in recent years -- the underrepresentation of female artists and the behavior of Front Porch Step's Jake Mcelfresh, who's been accused of sending explicit text and social media messages to underage girls.

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"I thought you could negotiate and discuss with the Internet," he said of the backlash to the controversies, without mentioning any names. "I thought you could communicate with social media, and you can't. Either you have to ignore social media or double-barrel shotgun it. There's no intellectual discussion on social media, and unfortunately I was trying to discuss things we did. I still believe those town hall meetings we had with all the artists, I wanted to teach them about due process but the core of the Internet right now is a very dangerous place. We have reached a critical point where I think people are going to slow things down. I think we peaked out in horrible behavior on the Internet this year."

Lyman also talked about how he constructs the Warped Tour lineups these days. He admitted that in recent years, he was overthinking things, and is heeding friend Ice-T's advice: "Start going with your gut." 

"People are coming into my office with every 16-year-old girl with a guitar and 300,000 Facebook fans. It still comes down to the music," he said. "Hayley from Paramore started on Warped Tour and matured into a different type of artist, and these girls come to my show -- and we are a majority girls at Warped Tour, it's not a male show anymore. [The girls] are going to look for a role model and when she's talented like that, I just got a gut feeling that in two years she's going to be a real driving force in our age group, our show. We needed a leader. She was going to lead the community, not with just the music, similar to when Katy Perry started on Warped Tour. I don't go looking for pop. I call it 'accidental pop.' I think even last year, I was doing too much thinking, like 'I need three pop people, three DJs,' and this new lineup, we're not announcing until March, but it's my whole thing about getting back to the soul."

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Lyman revealed that, unlike other festivals that go on sale months in advance of a lineup announcement, Warped Tour tickets will not be on sale until late March, after the artist roster is revealed. Dates are set to be revealed in December, and Lyman estimated that the onsale date will be about 90 days before the first tour stop.


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