For decades, bias against hip-hop and fear that such concerts are more likely to bring violence from the streets into venues has manifested as higher costs for event insurance that covers a range of potential outcomes, from cancellation to property damage and audience injuries. One former promoter in the Pacific Northwest says he was asked to pay up to five times more for insurance coverage on hip-hop shows in the 2010s, and when he brought a complaint to the local insurance commissioner, he was told that, as a private company, the insurer could charge whatever it wanted. Now some touring executives worry that, even as the genre’s popularity is at an all-time high, the 10 deaths and hundreds of injuries at Astroworld could further warp insurers’ perceptions — despite the fact that the culture of raging is arguably more common at hard-rock shows and has no intrinsic link to hip-hop.
“There is a real risk that this is going to be seen as a Black issue and that Black shows are particularly violent,” says one music manager. “The reality is, it’s not actually that common that you see something like this at a Black show.”
Smaller hip-hop acts and promoters are likely to get hit the worst, while major touring artists, promoters and venues tend to have blanket insurance policies that cover all their shows regardless of genre. It’s also potentially bad for outdoor festivals with temporary staging, as these events typically require separate insurance underwriting in the form of an isolated policy or an additional premium on an existing one. If the costs become prohibitive, expect higher ticket prices — or even fewer of these kinds of events.
“Hip-hop shows were exceedingly hard to get covered before this happened,” says one insurance specialist. “So it can’t get any easier.”