Who's Responsible for What Happens at the Club?
Yes, unregulated social clubs can cause problems in neighborhoods, especially if liquor's involved.
But a bill working its way through Philadelphia City Hall may have a chilling effect on live performance in the region without really doing much to solve the problem it was designed for. "The Promoter's Bill" would hold independent promoters liable for any dangerous, harmful, or just plain undesirable activity at the events they stage.
On the face of it, it isn't such an unreasonable request. In Host Your Own Concerts, I wrote about the fact that it's ultimately your moral responsibility as a talent buyer to care for the safety and well-being of the audience that attends your events. However, the Promoter's Bill takes things too far. Potentially, the Bill would hold you accountable if someone attending your event commits a crime in the neighborhood near the venue.
More important, the Bill would require promoters to obtain a license from the city, which itself would require a signifiant liability insurance policy. If you're Live Nation, or even a relatively large independent promoter, you probably already have this. But if you're an aspiring club DJ, or a house concert host, or a promoter trying to get more folks to eat at a neighborhood BYOB, the Bill puts both live music and many DJ events out of reach of most folks like you or me.
Here's the kicker. Grassroots support for the Bill comes from community residents who get understandably frustrated at rowdy clubgoers who trash their neighborhoods. Most of the raucous events targeted by the Bill aren't even happening in licensed venues to begin with. If police already can't control unregulated venues, what good does an overzealous bill do?