Boogie Coverage

“We were asked to sign individual liability waivers after we were loaded in and set up.” Robin Henkel says that prior to a recent gig at a local community college (he’d rather not specify which one), campus representatives asked each member of the band to sign contracts that would waive liability and hold the college harmless. “I think that what they are mostly concerned with is maybe somebody falls because they were boogying too much to the music and sues the venue for damages.”

Henkel says it’s increasingly common for him to be asked to sign contracts that contain a clause to “indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the organization hiring me for the performance.” The dark side to signing such a document but not having liability insurance is unthinkable to Henkel. “Any working musician I know would be financially ruined if they were contractually obligated to pay the legal defense of a corporation, college, or what have you.” He researched the cost of liability insurance and found it expensive relative to local gig fees. Henkel consulted an attorney and was advised not to sign. “My job is to play music,” he says, “not to indemnify large organizations.”

“In modern times, musicians are classified as independent contractors,” says Edward Arias, a representative for the American Federation of Musicians. Dinging local musicians for liability coverage is a development that he says first surfaced here about eight years ago. Venues, he says, don’t want to be responsible in case of an injury or an accident. Among those known to the AMF to commonly request proof of liability coverage include the Del Mar Fair, Seaport Village, Horton Plaza, local hotels, area college campuses, and the San Diego public library system. The AMF endorses a carrier that writes liability policies based on a sliding scale, but Arias agrees that “it’s disastrous for someone who has to post $300 to buy insurance for a gig that pays $300.”

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Who was it again that will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes?? Oh yea, thats right, the lawyers.

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