Cancellation vs Postponement

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side  – Hunters S. Thompson.

From the inside of the music business, I have experienced the dark side, but usually it is well insulated from the general public. Now it seems to reach out a little more to the average joe.

A number of Americans are stuck with tickets to concerts that have been postponed indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic.  Getting a refund has proven difficult, in many cases next to impossible.

That’s because most major ticket sellers’ policies differentiate between events that have been canceled and those that have been postponed. But postponed, even if a new date hasn’t been set? The answer tends to be no for a refund. 

Canceled? Sure, you can get your cash back, often automatically. New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi, for instance, cancelled their entire 2020 tour Monday, in an effort to help ticketholders “pay their bills or buy groceries,” the band said in a statement. 

Jeni Garcia is one of the lucky ones. She had tickets to a Keane show on March 15 in Austin, Texas, that were automatically refunded when the show was canceled. Her tickets to a Glass Animals show in San Antonio, though, haven’t been refunded because the concert is classified as postponed.

In most cases, there’s no set limit on how long organizers have to decide whether they’re going to cancel or reschedule a concert. If a person can’t attend a rescheduled show, Ticketmaster’s website suggests selling the tickets via a resale site. Your have to ask yourself – exactly how realistic is that?

Venues have been scrambling to find new dates for shows they’d booked months or even years in advance, says Colleen Fischer, director of booking for the Austin City Limits Live venue, home of PBS’s “Austin City Limits” and countless other performances. “The process of moving six or seven months’ worth of concerts and corporate events has been daunting,” she says. “Calendar management is always a puzzle, but this pandemic has taken it to a whole new level.”

A lot of money is on the line for performers, promoters and venues, which could explain why refunds are hard to get. With concerts expected to be delayed or canceled into the summer of 2021, the industry is looking at a minimum projected loss of $10 billion, according to Dave Brooks, Billboard’s senior director of live and touring.

If the shutdown extends into 2021, it would be even more catastrophic. “There’s no income being generated for venues, artists or the hundreds of thousands of men and women who work in the events business, from talent agents and promoters all the way down to food service employees, ushers and security guards. Tens of thousands of people are out of work right now.”

I started this post eluding to the dark side of this industry, but I rarely dwell on that, because I have way too many good memories of all the great people that make up this industry, both on the artist side as well as the crew side.

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