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Managing Artist Sickness for Music Festival Organisers.

Andy Robertson

Performance artists and musicians are not immune from injury or sickness and in some cases, this may cause them to cancel or reschedule their appearance. What steps can festival organisers take to mitigate and manage instances when scheduled acts are unable to perform.


Having a headliner artist pull out of a booking for a music festival can be a huge disappointment for both organisers and festival-goers. Such occurrences do happen every year and organisers should ensure that they are fully prepared for worst case scenarios if this does happen.

Accurate Assessment.
If an artist reports to organisers that they are feeling unwell it is imperative that as much information as possible is obtained. A bout of food poisoning or the flu some weeks before their scheduled appearance may mean that they can still perform but regular updates are required. A physical injury from an accident may mean hospitalisation and recovery periods of months. Artists falling ill on the day of the event needs careful assessment even if they wish to proceed, there would be nothing worse than an artist a producing a sub-standard performance or leaving their set prematurely. 

Contingency Plans.
If any illness is notified in good time prior to the scheduled dates organisers should implement contingency plans for cancellation of a headliner. A replacement act of similar standing should be booked if possible but if this is merely weeks before the festival dates expect to pay inflated fees and challenging availability. 

Public Relations and Communications.
A suitably worded press release should be issued by the organisers in conjunction with the artist's managements team so the same news is conveyed at the same time. Any statement should include good reasons for the cancellation and the nature of any illness or injury that prevents the artist form performing. This can be more problematic if the announcement comes just days or hours before they are due to perform. Obviously festival-goers will be disappointed but any negative feelings can be subdued by announcing a replacement artist of similar stature.

Legal Consequences.
Festival organisers will probably have a standard agreement and contract with every artist booked and they can use appropriate wording when it comes to an artist being unable to perform due to sickness. In some cases where a deposit has been paid to an artist to secure a booking organisers can specify that the full amount be refunded in the event of sickness. In some cases, an artist may insist that any deposit will be retained. The key wording most artist's agreements contain is that there shall be no claim for damages by either party against the other. Where an artist gets sick on-site due to food poisoning for example, organisers may agree to pay reasonable expenses only.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics including a specific module for artist management. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by cottonbro via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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