This week, critics slammed musician Ani DiFranco for a huge mistake. She announced her annual Righteous Retreat would held at Nottoway Plantation in White Castle, La., which turned out to once hold hundreds of slaves under terrible circumstances. DiFranco since canceled the event, stating,

“when i agreed to do a retreat (with a promoter who has organized such things before with other artists and who approached me about being the next curator/host/teacher), i did not know the exact location it was to be held. i knew only that it would be “not too far outside of new orleans” so that i could potentially come home to my own bed each night. and i knew that one of the days of the retreat was slated as a field trip wherein everyone would come to new orleans together. later, when i found out it was to be held at a resort on a former plantation, I thought to myself, “whoa”, but i did not imagine or understand that the setting of a plantation would trigger such collective outrage or result in so much high velocity bitterness. i imagined instead that the setting would become a participant in the event. this was doubtless to be a gathering of progressive and engaged people, so i imagined a dialogue would emerge organically over the four days about the issue of where we were. i have heard the feedback that it is not my place to go to former plantations and initiate such a dialogue.”

DiFranco unknowingly agreed to this location, so here are some ways in which musicians can avoid an incident like this in their career.

1. Research your own venues
DiFranco’s first mistake was putting 100 percent of her trust in the company that helped set up the Righteous Retreat. Let’s hope Ani DiFranco cuts ties with this company and starts to put her own effort into researching her venues. If she had set up her own system of checks and balances, this location choice would not have occurred.

2. Don’t let your friends speak out before you
Ani DiFranco’s friend and label mate Buddy Wakefield spoke to Raw Story and said, “The mob is in full swing… I want to respect 360 degrees of perspective here about the oversight. I understand a lot of people are really hurt. I also feel that Ani hasn’t issued her statement yet, and I want to let that statement be heard.” Buddy’s concern could have sparked more outrage because he blew off the oversight as if it were no big deal. Wakefield should take the advice of No. 1 as well.

3. Don’t alienate your fan base, or you won’t have one anymore
Ani DiFranco has built up a diverse fan base over her extensive career, including many queer women and women of color. This bold oversight may just strike a blow to her active and intimate fan base, hurting potential retreats and events in the future.