What's Next For Travis Scott?

When is the appropriate time for Travis Scott to perform again? How and when should he release music again? What’s next for his music career?

What's next for Travis Scott?

Image via Getty/Erika Goldring

What's next for Travis Scott?

In the aftermath of the Astroworld tragedy, where 10 festivalgoers lost their lives due to accidental compressive asphyxiation following a crowd crush, Travis Scott’s music career has been on pause. He hasn’t dropped any music or performed any shows since the Nov. 5, 2021 festival.

Facing lawsuits from attendees who are reportedly seeking billions of dollars in damages, Travis is at an uncertain juncture when it comes to the rest of his career. When and how will he return to the stage? When will he start releasing music again?

Travis hasn’t directly addressed any of these questions himself, but there have been reports that he’s resumed recording sessions for his next album Utopia, and Kanye West recently claimed that Trav will be “with me at Coachella” in April. While some argue that it’s far too soon for a return to the stage for Travis, others have been disappointed not to see his name on festival posters this summer. As these conversations continue, members of the Complex Music staff shared their thoughts about how and when it’s appropriate for Travis to start releasing music and performing again.

Andre: It would seem like, for starters, he’d want all the Astroworld cases to be litigated before he got back onstage. I also think he should sit out this year of festivals just to let the public disdain simmer down a bit more. 

Eric: I think fans will need to be patient as he makes his way through the legal process. Billboard just reported that 287 separate Astroworld lawsuits are moving forward as one big case, involving 2,800 individuals who are seeking “billions in total damages.” With that kind of money on the line, I don’t think he’ll book any major shows until the legal proceedings have moved forward. From a public relations perspective, I expect him to either make another apology, interview, or statement before he does any big solo shows. The first two apologies were each met with backlash and jokes, and I think he’ll make another effort at connecting with fans on a human level before taking the stage again. For all these reasons, I don’t expect Travis to perform a full-on concert or show up on any festival posters until at least next summer.

Jessica: Astroworld happened in early November 2021, so I think it would be most respectful to start thinking about returning to the stage a year after the tragedy. If he were to announce a one-off show or appear alongside another artist at a concert in January 2023, I think it would be received much better than if he rushed his return. People need time to heal and put new policies in place. 

Andre: I feel like Kanye’s going to have him at Rolling Loud, so that will be his initial return. I think for the time being, he’d do best to come out as a guest during other people’s sets. But when it comes to a solo show, that’s out of his hands. That’s on whether promoters, insurers, and venues want to book him. If that does happen, he should still wait until 2023. 

Eric: For this to go smoothly, he’ll need to build up to a full-on return. I think he’ll focus on the lawsuits first and make sure he’s taken more steps to make things right with the families of the victims. Then he’ll have to start small: coming out during another artist’s concert at a small venue. After that, I could see him performing his own show at a small venue, before working up to bigger shows and festivals. And when he does end up onstage again, he’ll be expected to be really attentive to what’s happening in the crowds, and increased staffing will need to be in place. I could see festivals and venues reducing ticket sales below capacity to avoid overcrowding.

Jessica: In the past, Travis Scott’s flyers and marketing schemes have been centered around promoting the “rage.” I don’t think it would be good for him to lose his identity, but it would be wise to return with a big emphasis on safety. Trav could be the one to set the standard for the rest of the live events industry with more transparent information about security systems in place and increasing numbers of trained medical staff. And though Travis Scott welcomes a diverse age range of people at his shows, I think festivals like Astroworld should have age limits. Being mindful of what he posts on social media, as well as how he interacts with rebellious fans will also be important.

Andre: It’s tricky, because I’d say the best thing to do would be to address what happened, but that’s not his sound. So I’d take most of this year off—I wouldn’t drop anything until like, August, and even then, I’d start out with some features to gauge how people receive them. And whenever he does release a solo track, he should make sure it’s undeniable. We know good music generally trumps, or offsets, controversy.

Eric: Travis will be better off if he eases back into releasing music again. Showing up as a featured artist on someone else’s song makes sense first, before releasing music of his own. And when he does drop music, he’ll need to be mindful of the new context around him (a song about raging and being reckless right now would backfire).

Jessica: The timing of his next music release is less of a concern than his return to the stage, in my opinion. I don’t want or even expect Travis to change his sound to attract a different crowd. We’re going to get the same Trav we heard on Astroworld. I don’t think it would be a problem if he were to release music this summer, and I don’t think his rollout needs to change much.

Andre: He has to make sure everyone who was at Astrowold gets some kind of compensation, and the families of those who passed deserve even more. I wouldn’t be trying to fight in court, I’d just give them what they asked for within reason. 

I’d also lead a push for better conditions at concerts for fans. What happened isn’t 100 percent on Travis—it’s also on Live Nation and their lack of proper medical and security personnel. Between this and what happened to Drakeo the Ruler, these large promotions have a lot to reckon with. They make millions of dollars off concertgoers, so they can dip into those profits to make sure there’s enough personnel to secure the venue and attend to unhealthy fans. Travis should show initiative to right his wrong and make sure better regulations are in place for future festivals and concerts. He could do that—whether he would is another story. 

He also needs to be clear, in an interview or otherwise, that he’d be more attentive to fans if he was allowed to perform again. He should tell people that the “lawless” rage culture was cool, but he didn’t realize it could backfire to the magnitude that it did, and he wants to be more communal at future shows. Fans are going to end up moshing at his shows—he just has to be adamant about making sure they know to take care of each other while doing so. 

Eric: Be patient. I think Travis still has a long career ahead of him, but he won’t do himself any favors if he rushes his return. Tragedies take a long time to heal from, and returning to the stage too soon (or even hastily releasing new music too early) would set him back. I also don’t think his Instagram apology or his Charlamagne interview went over very well, so he’ll need to figure out another way to honestly communicate with the public about what happened, and what he learned from it, before resuming his music career. 

Jessica: To be frank, in some ways, there is nothing Travis can do. People died, and for those families, nothing will ever be the same. Countless others have been traumatized. There’s no video statement, interview, or action that will change that. On the other hand, though, I would personally like to see Travis take part in some initiatives that don’t result in his material gain. Shortly after the festival, he partnered with therapy app BetterHelp to provide mental health services to those affected by the tragedy. The partnership came off as tone-deaf and exploitative, leading many to further question his intentions. Making a business partnership in the wake of a tragedy is not the way to go. In December 2021, it was reported that Travis was leading an effort to address concert safety issues, but no concrete details were ever provided. If he were to be more transparent about what he was doing and allow people to see him in action, I think that would be well-received. Travis is known to be a reclusive artist, but maybe it’s time he steps out of the shadows on some of these issues.

Andre: If he can get major promoters back on his side, he’ll be fine, because he has a lot of fans who already want to see him. But if that’s not the case, he’s going to have to get creative about shows, like Kanye has been post-TLOP out. Arena and stadium tours may be out for a while, but he can still have one-off events during his album cycle. I think overall he’ll be fine, because many of his fans aren’t actually putting much blame on him and just want to go mosh to his music. They aren’t even conceptualizing how much of a liability he is right now, which indicates that he still has plenty of demand. 

Eric: In some ways, this will change the trajectory of his career forever. It definitely won’t end his career (I think he’ll continue to have a lot of success) but it will alter it. Entering his 30s, after a tragedy like this, I think Travis is going to adjust some of the ways he presents himself to his audience. He’s not going to be able to encourage his fans to be as reckless as he has in the past, and I think he’ll change some of his self-branding. I also don’t think Astroworld Festival will ever happen again, especially considering the legal ramifications. If he approaches this period well, though, making the right pivots and using this as an opportunity to evolve, I think he’s still set up to have a long and successful career. When the Rolling Loud Miami lineup was announced last week, the most popular comment from fans was “where is Travis?” It’s clear there’s still a very big appetite for his music and live shows.

Jessica: The Astroworld victims are seeking billions in damages, so this tragedy will likely hurt him financially (although I doubt all of that sum comes out of his pocket). As far as music sales and relevance goes, I have a hard time imagining people turning away from him altogether—his fans will still stream his music. But his concert revenue may take a hit for a while. If Astroworld were to come back in 2024, I would be shocked, and I don’t predict his name will pop up on major festival lineups like Coachella, Bonnaroo, or Governors Ball. But there are festivals like Rolling Loud who might lean into the controversy, and he will likely find ways to pop up onstage with collaborators. Prior to the Astroworld tragedy, Travis Scott was one of the biggest rappers in the world, with deals from Fortnite to McDonald’s. It may take some reinventing, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere. 

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