Kylie Jenner returned to social media for the first time since she was criticized for her handling of the Astroworld tragedy while partner Travis Scott remains out of the public eye. It has been less than three weeks since the rapper performed during the deadly concert that killed 10 people and injured hundreds of others.
Scott, 30, has been named in multiple lawsuits totaling more than $3 billion dollars and they continue to pile up. But what exactly is the rapper on the hook for? One legal expert says the case will “come down to what he knew regarding safety issues, when he knew the issues and what he did about them.”
“If Scott actively disregarded known risks to his concertgoers either before the show or during it, he could be on the hook for negligence, at the least, and the millions of dollars in damages that could result from the suits,” attorney Rachel Fiset, managing partner of Zweiback, Fiset & Coleman, tells Yahoo Entertainment. “Incidents at Scott’s prior concerts will be a factor in plaintiffs’ claims that Travis Scott should have done more to alleviate the risks at his show, but the investigations into what happened to cause the horrific tragedy at Astroworld is still ongoing and Scott’s knowledge appears to be yet unknown.”
Fiset says Scott “could be held liable for millions in damages, which, of course, could lead to bankruptcy with the amounts possible as a result of these lawsuits.” However, it will be a stretch to put this just on Scott. While it’s unclear how the incident will directly impact the musician financially, his brand could be damaged beyond repair.
“It’s been a brand disaster through a treasure chest of blunders,” says crisis PR expert Eric Schiffer. “After the incident, he said he was devastated, but Travis’s initial words don’t ring true with many people. Why did he keep performing when emergency vehicles were pulling up if he was so devastated? Why didn’t he stop the music and have producers announce it? Why did he and Drake throw a party right after?”
Schiffer believes Scott was “slow to respond” — the rapper ultimately issued a statement late the following day.
“Attempts to manage his brand have not changed a perception that he allowed an environment that caused a lethal night of music,” Schiffer adds.
Scott is hardly just Mr. Kylie Jenner. Forbes declared the “Sicko Mode” singer a “brand whisperer” landing him on its 30 under 30 list. He reportedly made $20 million from his deal with McDonald’s, launched his hard-seltzer Cacti and partnered with Nike and its Air Jordan line on Cactus Jack, a sub-brand he created. Nike has postponed the release of its latest sneaker collaboration following the tragedy. Dior is evaluating whether to move forward with its spring men’s line in collaboration with Scott.
“You are witnessing the single most incredible brand hit to a music performer in modern American history. Travis is sitting on a powder keg that could see his empire go boom,” believes Schiffer. “Many brands will view Travis like the plague, potentially facing his entrepreneurial explosion. Travis’s legal liability is nothing compared to the severe financial pain and suffering he may undergo with brand deals napalmed before his eyes. Nothing material has ended, but he is an incremental groundswell away from people and families outraged enough to direct their anger toward Travis’s brand partners.”
It was announced Scott and Kylie’s joint W Magazine cover, which was shot prior to the tragedy, will not be digitally released or promoted following the incident. So is that a sign of things to come for the power couple?
“There will continue to be a significant slowing down of any action and a lot of analysis and watching of how Travis manages things over the following days and weeks,” explains Schiffer.
As for Kylie’s solo billion-dollar brand, she’ll likely come out unscathed. The reality star was in attendance at the concert, but was safely ushered out of the VIP section with Kendall Jenner. The Kardashians were criticized across the board for appearing insensitive after the tragedy, posting about Kris Jenner’s birthday and mostly going about business as usual.
“Kylie and the Kardashian family will not be held to the same standard as Travis. So the criticism won’t materially affect the Kardashians,” says Schiffer.
“If I was advising Travis, I let him know that because trust is damaged, the battleground will need to hyper-focus on defining who is the real Travis Scott. I’d make it clear that his most significant risk is that he comes across to many as aloof,” he continues. “Travis has the difficult challenge of having the public make sense of past events where he fostered a lack of safety against a picture of what he wants: the responsible and unaware innocent bystander despite people suggesting he was getting warned of the deaths below his stage.”
Travis Scott and Drake named in $750 million Astroworld lawsuit: