What Happens When A Tour Gets Canceled?

In case you haven’t heard, famous rapper Kanye West went on stage in Sacramento an hour late and proceeded to sing three songs, go on a tirade, and promptly drop the mic. The next day it was announced that the rest of his Saint Pablo tour had been suddenly canceled, and that ticket holders would be refunded. While this left many fans stunned and confused, it was revealed on Wednesday that Kanye also checked into an LA hospital for evaluation and treatment. We wish Kanye West a swift recovery from his ailments, but this incident brings up an important question in the industry: what happens when a huge tour or concert gets suddenly canceled, and what can fans do about it?

A lot of the revenue that artists and studios receive comes straight from concert ticket sales and merchandise. When an artist plans a concert tour, be it national or worldwide, it’s almost a surefire way to make some sweet dough and boost the artist’s career. From 2009 - 2011, U2 made over $700 million from their 360 Degree Tour, the most in international tour history.

That’s why it’s always so shocking and heartbreaking when a popular artist cancels due to weather, technical difficulties or, in the case of Kanye and many other artists, for health reasons. So much hard work is poured into the production of these once-in-a-lifetime shows, that it takes an army to dismantle the project and begin the cancellation process. 

But there can be a silver lining: while this latest news may be making headlines for now, last minute tour and concert cancellations are actually not as common as you fear. According to Billboard, the last tour of this size that was canceled was Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball Tour in 2013, where she had to cancel 22 dates for her hip surgery. Another piece of good news was shared in an article by Emily Yahr at The Washington Post. She wrote that “...[in] about 95 percent of these situations, the concert isn’t canceled - it’s just postponed.” For example, when Keith Urban missed a show due to a storm, he promised fans he’d make it up to them by playing a longer set on the rescheduled date, and he did. 

Fans may not realize that for many big-name artists, insurance policies are in effect in case of disasters like these. If the artist gets sick, some equipment breaks, or weather doesn’t agree, there’s some coverage for the costs of refunds, rescheduling, or replacements. 

While what happened to Kanye West is sad to hear, music fans can rest assured that no one wants to see cancelled concerts and tour dates: not the artist, producers, or the studios, all the ones who put in the hard work to make these experiences happen. If you’re in a situation where a concert could be canceled last-minute, stay tuned for press releases, words from the artist or from their publicist and follow instructions for refunds or rescheduling. Remember, the artists want to see you just as much as you want to see them.