A lot of music fans can relate to the feeling of disappointment once they find out their favourite artist has cancelled on them.
For the unique experiences that concerts are, their unpredictability is also the reason why they can bring so much disappointment. Recently, there has been a wave of big name artists who have either delayed their tours or cancelled them for a number of reasons. Canadian superstar Drake twice delayed gustour dates in Amsterdam due to issues with stage production. A few months ago Justin Bieber announced that he was going to cancel the final 14 concerts of his world tour.
What I am arguing here is not that artists are super humans who do not have the right to cancel if they have genuine problems that need to be dealt with. I am arguing that there has to be more consideration for the fans who sacrifice a lot of time and money to see them. Many ticketing companies take advantage of the desperation of fans who will pay anything for that once in a lifetime concert experience – no ticket refund can replace unforgettable memories or travel costs for that matter.
Following Drake’s recent postponement, there were a number of complaints on social media from fans. One disappointed fan explained that she had booked flight tickets and a hotel to see her favourite artist. Given how unfair the ticket balloting system is these days, it’s more and more likely that the only way that you’re going to see your favourite artist is by buying a ticket for their tour date in a neighbouring country that is a less popular destination. Things are not always in the artists’ control and a lot of the blame should go to the organisers of these events but it would be interesting to assess whether these global superstars know or even care about how much a cancelled show impacts their fans.
This is not to target Drake, who is undoubtedly at the top of his game but his name is always in the headlines so it is so hard to ignore him. It was recently announced that he had the highest grossing tour in Hip Hop history – he accrued a colossal $85 million USD in ticket sales on his Summer Sixteen Tour. The Watch The Throne tour performed by Jay Z and Kanye West is a close second with $65 million USD. This is the amount of money these artists can command and deservedly so. What is important to remember however is that these concert experiences would not be the same if it were not for the energetic fans so it reall is a symbiotic relationship. No fans equal a boring concert; no artist equals no concert. A frustrating equation but one that means that artists should really appreciate the role that their fans play in their shows. Fans will never experience the fun touring the road with a big entourage or the love artists receive on the road but all they want to do is connect and share unforgettable memories when their favourite artist comes to their city.
I’ve always argued that gigs performed by smaller artists are a better experience for the audience than big stadium concerts. This is because I believe they appreciate and pay more attention to their fans – it is also much easier to connect with fans in a smaller venue. When I saw Masego in London last year, he danced through the crowd and did a meet and greet afterwards; that sort of attention is rarely given by bigger artists.
The worst of all when it comes to cancellations are festivals. In London last year, fans were disappointed by Wizkid last year who was unable to travel to the UK due to Visa issues. In Washington this year, fans were disappointed at Sasquatch festival due to the inflated prices and underwhelming line up.
So what should fans do next time? Perhaps focus attention on smaller artists and smaller venues and perhaps be more selfish with your money. It’s not that we don’t love these stars but appreciate that you’re contributing a lot as well by going to these concerts – both financially and emotionally.