Travis Scott has been accused of ‘exploiting’ the Astroworld tragedy and ‘profiting’ off of concertgoers’ trauma after partnering with the controversial virtual therapy provider BetterHelp.
The 30-year-old rapper was performing on stage at his Astroworld Festival in Houston on Friday when a crowd surge left at least eight people dead and hundreds of others injured.
Scott, who has had more than 40 lawsuits filed against him following the concert, released a statement on Monday pledging to cover all funeral costs and refund the cost of all tickets.
He also announced that he was partnering with BetterHelp to supply free one-on-one online therapy to any concertgoers impacted by the tragic events at Astroworld.
Criticism: Travis Scott, 30, is facing backlash for partnering with the therapy app BetterHelp to offer Astroworld victims one month of free counseling
Allegedly: Jeff Guenther, the co-founder of the national therapist directory TherapyDen, claimed in a TikTok video that BetterHelp, and possibly Scott, were profiting off of the tragedy
However, the initiative was met with backlash and some even speculated that Scott would financially benefit from the partnership, which BetterHelp has denied.
A source close to Astroworld told DailyMail.com Scott is fully funding the free mental health service himself and is in ‘no way’ making a profit off of the initiative.
Issue: There have also been renewed criticisms about the therapy app, itself, including claims the company shares information with third-party advertisers
The person said BetterHelp is not paying him anything, and fans who decide to use the service will not be automatically billed at the end of the free month.
There have also been renewed criticisms about the therapy app, itself, including claims the company shares information with third-party advertisers.
‘I can’t really explain how much this bums me out,’ podcast host Bridget Todd tweeted. ‘Therapy apps like BetterHelp have been [called] out for their sketchy, not-really regulated policies around privacy and data. This “partnership” is just offering up these young people to be further mined and exploited for money.’
She added: ‘These kids were already put at extreme risk so corporate interests and streaming platforms could make more money with no regard to their wellbeing. Pumping them into BetterHelp just confirms it — everything is for sale. Everything is a “partnership opportunity,” even your death.’
Arguments: Critics slammed BetterHelp and Scott, claiming the the partnership was ‘exploiting’ Astroworld victims
‘This is so s****y,’ activist Wagatwe Wanjuki agreed. ‘Betterhelp is not adequate trauma treatment, it pays therapists like s**t, and they collect data. And one month is nothing.’
Someone else sarcastically commented: ‘Hi, I’m Travis Scott and I’m largely responsible for the death of 8 people and trauma of the thousands. That’s why this month I’m partnering with BetterHelp so they can sell your information to a 3rd parties to target you with ads hoping you spend money when you’re depressed.’
A number of people pointed out that the app is already offering one-month free trials via partnerships with Ariana Grande and Venus Williams while accusing Scott and BetterHelp of profiting from the signups.
‘DO NOT USE BETTERHELP FOR THERAPY. THEY ARE SELLING YOUR DATA TO THIRD PARTY APPS TO GET MONEY. THEY PAY LOTS OF $$$ TO INFLUENCERS TO CREATE PARTNERSHIPS AND EXPAND THEIR BUSINESS. DO NOT LET TRAVIS SCOTT PROFIT OFF OF THE ASTROWORLD TRAGEDY,’ one person wrote.
Response: A source close to Astroworld told DailyMail.com Scott is fully funding the free mental health service himself and is in ‘no way’ making a profit off of it
Tragedy: Scott was performing on stage at the festival in Houston on Friday when a crowd surge left at least eight people dead and hundreds of others injured
Legal woes: Amid the backlash, Scott is facing over 40 lawsuits following the festival
‘Did we just go from a tragedy to a BetterHelp brand partnership?’ someone else asked, while another added: ‘Travis Scott the type of guy to turn 8 people dying into a paid promo post from BetterHelp, what a businessman.’
Many people shared Jeff Guenther’s recent TikTok video in which the licensed mental health therapist details how ‘BetterHelp, and possibly Travis Scott, are profiting off the Astroworld tragedy.’
Guenther, who is the co-founder of the national therapist directory TherapyDen, claimed Scott ‘could be making big bucks from all the referrals that he sends over to BetterHelp.’
How deadly chaos at Travis Scott concert unfolded
At around 2:15 p.m., before the concert, video showed hundreds of people rushing through barriers at a VIP security checkpoint and barging past security.
At least one person was injured in that afternoon scrum.
Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena said that he wasn’t aware of what caused the rush but said that any special precautions for this year’s festival ‘weren’t enough.’
Police Chief Troy Finner visited rapper Travis Scott before his set to express ‘concerns about the energy in the crowd,’ according to the The New York Times.
Scott was due to perform at 9 p.m. A massive countdown timer came up 30 minutes before his set on a big screen.
ICU nurse Madeline Eskins said that the closer the timer got to zero, the worse the pressure within the crowd became.
‘People compressed up against each other and were pushing forward and backward,’ she told CNN.
Just after 9 p.m., Scott took to the stage to start his set which also included a surprise appearance by Drake.
By the time the rapper entered the stage people had already started to pass out.
At 9.30 p.m., officials received the first reports of injuries, Pena said.
At around 9.30 p.m., an ambulance made its way into the crowd, taking 10 minutes to reach the patient.
Video footage, which has since been deleted, shows two men who appear to be part of Scott’s entourage approach him on stage.
‘Y’all know what you came to do,’ Scott said, turning to the crowd, before the music started up again.
He then asked the tens of thousands in front of him to make ‘the ground shake.’
At 9.38 p.m., a ‘mass casualty event’ was declared, the fire chief said.
Scott maintains he was not aware of the severity of what was happening but he did stop the show on at least three occasions to ask that stricken people get help.
At around 10.10 p.m., the performance was finally halted.
‘How do I know this? Because back in 2019, BetterHelp was trying to partner with me as well, and they were waving a ton of money in front of me,’ he explained.
Guenther has previously warned about BetterHelp’s practices, which he reiterated in his recent @TherapyDen video about Scott’s partnership with the app.
‘So all the kids that sign up for the free one month should be aware that their data is being mined.’
The source close to Astroworld told DailyMail.com that much of the information on social media regarding Scott’s partnership with the app is inaccurate, saying the claims he is making a profit are ‘disgusting.’
‘There is no sponsorship or brand deal between BetterHelp and Travis Scott,’ she source said. ‘It’s disturbing [that] people are trying to poke holes into this partnership, potentially deterring those in need of mental health resources from seeking it.’
BetterHealth has also addressed the claims on its website, insisting that Scott is not getting paid in any way.
The company also denied allegations that a person participating in the initiative is waiving any of their legal rights while addressing some of the misinformation that was floating online.
‘Following the tragic event at Astroworld, Travis Scott’s team reached out to BetterHelp with an initiative to cover the cost of therapy for those who were impacted,’ BetterHelp wrote.
‘As a mission-driven organization, we’re happy and proud to help whenever we can, such as with the free therapy we provided to people impacted by Hurricane Dorian, the El Paso shooting, the California Wildfires, the evacuations from Afghanistan, and other events in which mental health support was needed.’
Amid the backlash, Scott and Live Nation — the entertainment company behind the Astroworld festival — are facing dozens of lawsuits.
A number of injury lawyers, including famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump, are claiming that Scott, Live Nation, and other parties behind the festival failed to provide the necessary security measures to prevent the stampede that injured hundreds of people and killed eight concertgoers.
Crump — who is representing victim Noah Gutierrez, 21 — said that the tragedy was ‘years in the making’ because of a history of injuries reported at Scott’s performances, including three hospitalizations at the same event in 2019.
The lawsuits also allege that Scott kept singing for more than 30 minutes despite numerous deaths, injuries, and screams from fans for the show to stop.
‘We are hearing horrific accounts of the terror and helplessness people experienced, the horror of a crushing crowd and the awful trauma of watching people die while trying to save them,’ Crump said in a statement.
Meanwhile, more than 28,000 people have signed an online petition attempting to block the rapper from performing as a headliner at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in California next April.
Crump set up a designated website for anyone else traumatized by the experience to reach out for legal assistance, which could be found at astroworldclaimshelp.com.
‘We will be pursuing justice for all our clients who were harmed in this tragic and preventable event,’ he added.