<< Back to articles

Consequences of a Headliner Pulling out of a Music Festival.

Andy Robertson

This festival season has seen an unusually high number of headliner artists pulling out of music festivals. The reasons can vary but links between an event’s sponsors and conflicts taking place around the world have been a contributory factor. What are the consequences of this on festival organisers and how can these sensitive issue be handled? 

Music festivals are planned well in advance with sponsors and headline artists often booked a year in advance. Events taking place around the world can sometimes lead to conflicts of interest between what artists believe in and a sponsor's financial activity which may not come to light until very close to an event’s dates. There are implications for artists, sponsors and organisers when this happens, but a well-run music festival should have contingency plans in place to help mitigate such situations. 

Why Artists Cancel Appearances. 
Performance artists and musicians have always been fickle and on some occasions may cancel without providing any specific reason. Touring artists who are scheduled for a festival appearance as part of a wider tour sometimes cancel because of exhaustion or medical illness. Cancelling for political reasons or some conflict of interest can be the most unpredictable occurrence to manage often leading to numerous complications for all parties involved. 

Contracts and Agreements.
Once an artist has been curated, they will agree terms with organisers with a formal contract which will cover cancellation. Cancellation due to unforeseen circumstance, referred to as Force Majeure can usually cover illness where there is no financial penalty for the artist. If an artist cancels for other reasons, there will usually be financial penalties involved payable to the organising entity. In addition, organisers can blacklist an artist that repeatedly cancels without good reason. Both artists and organisers may negotiate specific terms relating to cancellation as the industry can be prone to such incidents. 

Impact on Festival Organisers. 
When a headline artist pulls out of a festival it will lead to disappointment from festival-goers who already purchased tickets. In addition, it can impact on future ticket sales as the headline line-up has changed. This reduction in ticket sales can impact organisers financially and may have a knock-on effect on sponsor and vendor sales. Curating an alternative headline artist with equal appeal can be challenging for organisers as they will face logistical issues in scheduling arrangements and notifications to all parties involved. Aside from the financial and logistical challenges the organisers may also face reputational damage as festival-goers feel they have been misled about an advertised line-up. 

Impact on Artists. 
An artist that cancels with no good reason will probably be liable for financial penalties to the organisers and possibly to their crew who are now no longer required. Depending on the reason fans and festival-goers may be sympathetic or angry about an artist pulling out of a festival. There may be an element of reputational damage and future trust from festival organisers, producers and management companies that may impact negatively on the artist’s career. 

Artist cancellations are rare occurrences but organisers with a good contingency plan should be able to replace that artist with an alternative with equal standing. A plan to manage logistics can help to smooth out a transition to alternative artists in the line-up. Organisers should always communicate in a transparent manner to festival-goers why the artist cancelled and what arrangements have been made for alternatives. Managing the PR fall out will be an essential part of the contingency planning. 

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. 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.

Image by Masud Allahverdizade via Pexels.

Andy Robertson
Share To:

<< Back to articles

Contact us

Get in touch to discuss your requirements.

US: +1 424 485 0220 (USA)

UK: +44 207 060 2666 (United Kingdom)

AU: +61 (2) 8357 0793 (Australia)

NZ: +64 (0)9887 8005 (New Zealand)

Or use our contact form here.