In an ideal world, concert promoters and event organizers are able to secure celebrity performers several months in advance, promote the event widely, and sell out tickets for the event with several weeks or months to spare before the big day, pocketing a nice profit in the process. In the real world, however, there are often several hitches, complications, and obstacles that continually interrupt the entire process from the very first email communication with the celebrity representatives until the final day of the concert.

For example, celebrities are also human beings, and do get sick throughout the year. In some cases, severe illness might force the celebrity to cancel an upcoming concert or appearance. For example, the Grammy Award-winning singer Lorde, 17, was forced to unexpectedly cancel several Australian tour dates due to what her team called a “chest infection.” Legal problems, double bookings, travel delays, and other similar obstacles are some of the unexpected changes and cancellations that you might have to deal with when booking a celebrity for a concert or other type of event.

In this brief article, we take a look at the potential challenges that can arise when booking a celebrity, such as unexpected changes or cancellations that may occur. We offer a few ideas for how concert promoters and event organizers can react to these changes and cancellations in order to protect their reputation and offer a fair solution to the people who had already purchased tickets.

Understanding the risks

An unexpected illness is not the only type of disaster that can lead to an unexpected cancellation of an event that you have been planning for well over a year. In most cases of celebrity cancellations or changes, the cause of the cancellation is more “mundane.” In some cases, the artist or celebrity you had booked well in advance may simply come down with a serious case of the flu a few days before the event and be unable to perform. Sometimes the unexpected cancellation may be caused by the artist´s booking team who accidentally double-booked the artist for a given date. Or perhaps the artist might be dealing with legal problems and may be legally “proscribed” from traveling out of state while their legal problems are in the courts.  We go into more depth about the different cancellation or no-show scenarios in this blog.

No matter what the cause may be for the cancellation, concert promoters and event organizers should always be aware of the risk that comes with hiring celebrities. By recognizing the probability that a celebrity could unexpectedly cancel their appearance or performance due to a variety of different factors, you can subsequently plan ahead and have a contingency plan ready beforehand. Though an unexpected, last-minute cancellation will always cause some major stress, preparing for this eventuality beforehand can help to alleviate some of the worst consequences.

Furthermore, identifying the potential risks associated with booking a celebrity, such as scheduling conflicts, last-minute cancellations for personal reasons, missing flights or flight cancellations, and other events that are out of the celebrity´s control should be considered part of the planning process.

Planning ahead

So how exactly can you “plan” for an unexpected, last-minute cancellation? Obviously, the best scenario might be to have a back-up artist planned in advance. Unfortunately, this most likely is not feasible in most scenarios as most artists will not want to be “on-call” as a last minute “second option.” Furthermore, your ticket buyers would probably be dismayed if an A-list hip hop artist who they had been waiting to see for over a year is suddenly replaced by a less popular, local, or up-and-coming artist.

If the event does need to be canceled, here are a few things you can do beforehand to protect yourself financially, safeguard your reputation, and be as accommodating as possible to the paying public.

  • Ensure that the contract has clear stipulations and clauses regarding an unexpected cancellation. If the celebrity has to cancel at the last minute, how much time do they have to return the initial deposit you had sent?
  • If possible, include clauses in the venue agreement that protects you financially in the event of a cancellation. If the celebrity cancels for personal reasons, who is financially responsible for the down payment on the venue? These clauses are called “venue cancellation clauses” and according to, these clauses might read something like this: “In the event that the Event is unable to operate, in the sole determination of Management, whether due to Acts of God, force majeure, pandemic, epidemic, terrorism, war, illness, public safety, strike, civil commotion, picketing, fire or state of emergency, or by reason of any other occurrence not under the control of Management, or otherwise, Management may cancel, postpone or terminate Event, the Exhibitor waives any and all claims the Exhibitor may have against Management for damages or expenses and agrees to accept in complete settlement and discharge of all claims.”  You should certainly attempt to create a clause like this in the contract if the celebrity is known to regularly “miss” or “cancel” bookings.

Communication and negotiation

When unexpected cancellations or date changes occur, the role of communication and negotiation with the celebrity’s agent or manager is by far the most important step in coming to a viable conclusion. In some cases, you might even negotiate an alternative date for the event in the case of a cancellation. It is generally a good idea to do your homework on the celebrity you have booked. Have they regularly canceled events in the past? Are they facing any legal or personal issues that might cause them to cancel at the last minute? If this is the case, contracting an alternative date can help to protect you and your ticket buyers.

If the cancellation is due to a natural disaster, unexpected inclement weather, flight cancellations, or other events that are simply beyond everyone´s control, then you need to be on the phone immediately with the celebrity´s manager or agent. Before you can communicate with the venue and the ticket buyers, you need to have clarity regarding the situation with the celebrity´s team.

Impact on the Event and the Audience

Lastly, it is extremely important for the concert organizer or event planner to understand that the “most affected” party in the event of a cancellation is the ticket buyer. For people who had been anxiously awaiting for months to see their favorite artist, a last-minute cancellation can be a major letdown. So how exactly should you communicate with the people who had already purchased tickets for the canceled or modified event?

  • Before making any announcement, it is important to have clarity regarding whether the event will be completely canceled or simply moved to a different date. As we stated above, clear, efficient, and precise communication and negotiation with the celebrity´s team is extremely important in the hours/days after the cancellation or date modification occurs.
  • Once you have clarity regarding the situation, the first thing to do is to announce on your social media platforms, website, or via an email campaign of the event cancellation or modification. It might be good to take an apologetic tone, but it is also important to be clear about the reasons for the cancellation, stating that the reasons were beyond your control.
  • Once you have explained the reasons for the cancellation, outline the next steps to be taken. If the event is canceled, what does the ticket buyer need to do to receive a full refund? For regular concert promoters, you might also offer the option of “transferring” their ticket to a different, upcoming concert that you are also in charge of promoting. If the date is simply being changed, clearly explain the date change.
  • If possible, ask the celebrity artist who canceled to make a short video explaining what happened. This might be especially important in the hip-hop industry where scams and fake concerts are becoming increasingly common. In order to protect your reputation as a concert promoter, you want people to be convinced that the cancellation was simply out of your hands. When organizing the concert, it is always a good idea to get a video drop when booking the artist so that the wider public will believe the artist is coming in the first place.
  • Lastly, you will also have to explain the cancellation to the owners or managers of the venue you had booked. Ideally, the contract should include a clause that outlines what is to happen in the event of an unexpected cancellation that is out of your hands. Obviously, you don’t want to be financially responsible for paying for a venue where no tickets can be sold. It is important to mention, however, that not all celebrities and their representation will be open to signing such a clause.


Planning ahead for the possibility of a last-minute cancellation, clear and efficient communication or negotiation with the celebrity and his or her representation, and following the action steps outlined above to deal with the aftermath of the cancellation can help you make it safely through an unexpected cancellation. Though a last-minute cancellation will always cause some discouraging effects for everyone involved, proper planning and swift action can help to minimize the negative fallout.