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"It's not worth turning on the heating in the venue and paying the staff." Is such brutal honesty with the fragile soul of an artist even legal?  | Photo: Nick Vidal-Hall (Flickr)
"It's not worth turning on the heating in the venue and paying the staff." Is such brutal honesty with the fragile soul of an artist even legal? | Photo: Nick Vidal-Hall (Flickr)
Anna Marie Hradecká -

TOP 5 Lame Excuses for Cancelling Your Concert

Something wicked has come to the music world – CANCELLED concerts. While you're prepared to play a gig with a fever and a broken leg, willing to haul all your gear to some one-horse town, there are promoters who don't worry quite so much about their commitments in the post-covid era. What's more, they come up with incredibly stupid reasons why even a long-planned event can't take place. The following five quotes from organisers can make musicians cringe more than transpositions into F# major. Yet, they were actually said – sometimes even only a few days before the event.

1. "Presales are low."

Estimating the real attendance at a concert from the number of tickets sold in advance is a dated technique. After all the lockdowns, we know that people don't feel like buying tickets in advance. They often wait until the last minute to make sure they and the musicians won't be sick. In addition, after a long cultural fast, there is too much happening and people often don't know where to go first – they decide just before the event, depending on their mood.

And sometimes, a kind of collective sloth kicks in and people end up giving up on the event they wanted to go to, preferring to sit at home in front of the TV. But a good band and good promotion should be able to get them off their couches – after all, not so long ago, there was nothing we wanted more than to go out to see some culture.

2. "It's not worth turning on the heating in the venue and paying the staff."

Oh, that hurt. Clearly, the culture is still recovering from a long covid and budgets are not rosy. Clubs are in the red because they're still healing financially after two years of barely paying their rent. And on top of that, energy prices are rising rapidly due to (not only) the Russian-Ukrainian war conflict. However, in the spring, we knew the autumn-winter season would be tough. Why didn't the club's production calculate the costs before hiring the bands?

Also, is such brutal honesty with the fragile soul of an artist even legal? In fact, the organiser is insinuating that your audience – which he doesn't even believe exists – must suck: the few people who might come to your concert will be bores who will drink tap water and won't dance and sweat in the mosh pit. Instead, they'll sit statically on their chairs all evening. Well, if that's what the promoter thinks of you, he can't expect you to play in their club ever again.

3. "We invited a few expensive bands, but not many people came and now we are in the red."

Sometimes, the audience is indeed unpredictable. Even if the promoter tries to avoid all school holidays, public holidays, elections, sunny days, snowy days, metro work or night sales at the nearest supermarket, for some unexpected reasons, people won't come to see even a hyper-famous musician.

It is unfortunate that the organiser who doesn't have a financial backup for these gloomy situations decides to cancel the concert of YOUR band – he probably thinks that you are not a "big name" and that you can swallow that bitter "cancelled" pill without complaints and be glad that you don't have to pay for the venue rental.

4. "My family and I have decided to go abroad on the date of your concert, so the club will be closed."

No financial problems here. What can I say? It seems like some individuals ran wild during lockdowns and asking them to be decent might be beyond their intellectual capacity. Just as it has become common for some people to cancel appointments five minutes in advance without compensating the other party, it is suddenly okay for some to change plans and put a hole in the band's budget. Of course, the line between assertiveness and aggressiveness is a matter of individual conscience. Also, times are moving fast and the only constant is change, isn't it?

5. "We have a new council and they have just changed the whole Christmas market programme, thank you and goodbye."

...or the tale of the cock and the hen, where everyone blames someone else, preferably someone of higher status and more power. The organiser thus assumes the role of a passive, almost involuntary executor of the will of a superior instance.

Never mind that events like the election of a new council are fairly easy to predict. Let's plan everything – and in the worst case, it'll get cancelled, so what. After all, if your band have a good reputation and a fan base, you'll find another gig for next Sunday in no time. And the promoter will save money because unlike your band, the wooden nativity scene doesn't need a sound engineer and a backstage.

Do you also experience cancelled gigs? What kind of justification from the organiser makes you flip out? And have you found a way to prevent the cancellations? Let us know in the comments. In the meantime, we can all keep our fingers crossed for as few cancelled events as possible.

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Anna Marie Hradecká