Entertainment Company Time4Fun Sued After Fan Dies at Taylor Swift Rio Concert

Taylor Swift

Photo: Bruna Manso (used under Creative Commons license)

Ana Clara Benevides Machado died November 17th at a Taylor Swift show in Rio de Janeiro, after heat index temperatures reached a scorching 59.3 degrees Celsius (138.74 Fahrenheit). Time4Fun, the concert management company, is now under investigation by Brazilian authorities, and it has been sued by several concertgoers.

Time4Fun is one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. It manages concerts and festivals in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, such as the annual Lollapalooza Brazil festival which has included international stars like Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

At the Rio Janeiro show, Time4Fun not only barred concertgoers from bringing in hand fans, sun umbrellas, and water bottles, but it even covered the stadium’s grass with metal (causing fans to suffer second-degree burns) and blocked the air vents which one fan told CorpWatch turned the stadium into “a big oven.”

“The geniuses of capitalism decided to cover the air vents so that no one could hear from the outside,” Julia Carvalho, who had tickets to Taylor’s November 18th concert in Rio, told CorpWatch. “It didn’t matter because the show was packed. It was already sold out. They had already made as much profit as possible, but they thought - hey, let’s cover the air vents so that no one can hear from the outside.”

Unfair Sales and Slavery

Time4Fun is currently being investigated for its unfair sales practices in both Rio as well as São Paulo, where Taylor’s tour took place, for failing to declare how it limits unregulated vendors from purchasing multiple tickets. It faces a fine of up to R$13 million (US$2.6 million).

Time4Fun is also being investigated by Brazil’s Labor Ministry after five workers were discovered living in slavery-like conditions during its 2023 Lollapalooza concert series. The transport and maintenance workers, who were sub-contracted by a company named Yellow Stripe, say that they were forced to sleep on strips of cardboard in a tent, and paid just R$130 (US$26) per day for a 12-hour shift. The five workers say that weren’t allowed to return home but were ordered to to guard the equipment overnight or lose their jobs. (Yellow Stripe was ordered to pay R$10,000 (US$2,025) to each of the workers in compensation after the incident).

“T4F considers this an isolated fact, strongly repudiates it and will continue with a strong stance in the face of any non-compliance with rules by outsourced companies,” Time4Fun wrote in response to investigative news outlet Repórter Brasil, which broke the story.

Four years prior, similar slavery-like working conditions were exposed at a previous Lollapalooza event managed by Time4Fun, in which the company was accused of hiring homeless people to set up the stages for just R$50 (US$12) per day, according to the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

Benevides, who was 23, arrived at the event over eight hours before it began, and waited in the sun the entire time for the event to start. Over 1,000 people fainted at the concert, causing Swift to temporarily pause the show after fans started to shout that they needed water.

“There was no wind circulating in the stadium,” Rodolpho Rodrigo, a concert attendee, wrote on Twitter. “The heat where I was was unbelievable, I can't imagine how hot it was on the tracks, which were even more crowded. T4F [the event producer] needs to be held responsible this time.”

Daniele Menin, a friend of Benevides, told G1, a Brazilian news website, that Benevides fainted while Swift was singing ‘Cruel Summer,’ the second song in her set. Paramedics rushed Benevides to hospital but she died of cardiac arrest on the way.

A day after Benevides died, 150,000 people signed a petition demanding a “Benevides Law” to make it mandatory to have water available at large events. On November 22, the government issued a temporary ordinance that required event organizers to distribute free water as well as allow attendees to bring water bottles inside. Over ten new laws have now been proposed in the Brazilian parliament to require better water distribution policies at large events.

Swift was set to perform again the day after Benevides died, which was projected to be the hottest day of the year in Rio.

That was the day that Carvalho - a designer who works at the CEUB university in Brasilia - decided to attend. She spent almost R$3,000 (US$606) - including flight tickets - to see Swift. (Tickets for Swift’s concerts cost between R$190 and R$2,250, an astronomical sum in Brazil, where the minimum wage is R$1,320 per month.)

Fans arrived many hours before the 7:30 pm start time to secure their spot inside the stadium. Carvalho, who had bought a VIP ticket and is on the autism spectrum, walked from one entrance to the next, looking for a special entrance or queue for people with disabilities, but was repeatedly told that no such queue had been organized, despite the fact that Brazilian law requires such facilities at large events.

Soon after she arrived, Carvalho started having difficulty breathing and a blurred vision as she walked around the stadium. “I really thought I was going to die. I was already starting to have heart palpitations,” she said. “I was already shaking. I already have low blood pressure because I have anemia.”

Street vendors who saw that Carvalho was feeling unwell, sprayed water on her and gave her ice. “I think if it weren't for the street vendors helping me, throwing water on me, giving me ice, letting me stay in the shade, I would have definitely passed out,” Carvalho said. “The vendors helped much more than the event organizers.”

Like many others, Carvalho decided to seek help at a local hospital to be treated. Less than two hours before the concert was supposed to start, Swift’s team announced that it would be postponed to Monday, angering fans who had been waiting in the sun for hours. Carvalho herself was unable to stay as she had to fly back to Brasilia to work.

A number of Swift fans who suffered severe burns at the concert location are now planning to sue Time4Fun. Carvalho is also planning to sue Time4Fun for anti-disability prejudice, because of the lack of special queues, as well as for being told that she “didn’t look autistic.” She will also ask to be reimbursed for her flight.

Time4Fun claims that it will reimburse everyone who missed the Saturday concert within 30 days if they fill out an online form.

“Unfortunately, for the first time in more than forty years of operation, we had a fatality at an event organized by Time for Fun,” Serafim Abreu the company’s CEO, said in a statement posted to social media a week after Benevides’ death. “To Ana Clara's family, I want to express our most sincere condolences. I now publicly state our willingness to provide assistance in whatever is necessary, as we have already said directly to the family members and to the lawyer who represents them, by telephone, in writing, since the incident,” he wrote.

But despite the statement, Time4Fun did not provide Benevides’ family with the money to bring the victim's body back to her home state of Mato Grosso do Sul, leading Swift’s fans to step up and do so. The company was also heavily criticized for taking a whole week to respond to the death.

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