It’s been an unprecedented festival season already, and it’s barely May! With every major festival canceled, or postponed, the broader live music and touring landscape has been shifted forever. We don’t yet know when we’ll be able to enjoy our favorite festivals with our friends again. Until then, we do have some stuff to figure out. Namely, what to do with the tickets we’ve purchased to these canceled/postponed shows.
Yes, there are more important things happening in the world right now than ravers being out a few hundred bucks and having plans canceled. Stuff happens. Given the current global circumstances, things could be worse. That doesn’t mean that people who purchased tickets to events don’t deserve some sort of solution, or remedy, for their situation.
It’s difficult for everyone involved. Event companies are losing money, artists are losing money, and so are potential attendees. We decided to take a look at the way different companies, from major festivals, like EDC and Coachella, to Northwest events, like Bass Coast and Shambhala, are handling their 2020 festival ticketing situations.
Major North American Festivals
While some festivals decided to postpone their events until the fall (for now), Ultra Music Festival decided to cancel its 2020 show entirely. Often considered the dawning of festival season, Ultra’s proposed March 2020 date was right at the forefront of America’s COVID-19 crisis. The timing couldn’t have been worse.
The festival decided against refunds for those who’d already purchased tickets, honoring the ticket for any of the following two Ultra Music Festival events in 2021 or 2022. Those later tickets also had extra benefits, such as discounts on merchandise. Those interested in registering their ticket for a future event had about a month to do so.
Coachella and EDC Las Vegas, two festivals that decided to move their events to October, are currently doing things a little differently. Both festivals made refunds available for a period of time. Coachella is still accepting refund requests through June 1st, and has a wait-list for ticket availability for both weekends available on their website. The refund window for EDC Las Vegas is currently closed.
Those who missed the ticket refund window for EDC Las Vegas are able to exchange their ticket for a pass to next year’s edition. Otherwise, tickets purchased for the spring festivals will transfer over to the new fall dates. You can find more info at the nifty support site EDC created as well.
Both festival companies have been keeping busy, outside of dealing with ticketing and public relations nightmares. Coachella released its 20th anniversary documentary for free on YouTube. Insomniac Events has been regularly putting on Virtual Rave-A-Thon’s, featuring dozens of the top acts in dance music performing from the company’s Southern California headquarters.
Other major ticketing platforms, and event companies, are feeling the heat as well. After facing pressure from lawmakers and vocal criticism regarding their initial response to the COVID-19 crisis, Live Nation created refund sites for itself and Ticketmaster (which it owns), while launching the “Ticket Relief Plan”. The plan offers a variety of solutions, such as refunds, credit toward future shows, keeping your ticket for a rescheduled date, and the option to donate your ticket to a healthcare worker through the “Hero Nation” program.
The response may have taken a while, and the situation was a mess, but it’s nice when companies like Live Nation respond and react to pressure and criticism. Should it take that level of pressure and criticism? No. But when a company is furloughing hundreds of people, while dealing with a situation nobody has ever faced before, a lagging response makes a bit more sense.
— Live Nation (@LiveNation) April 24, 2020
When it comes to the 2020 Northwest festival season, there’s two main groups: the canceled Canadians, and the not-yet-canceled Gorge shows.
Both Shambhala Music Festival and Bass Coast have canceled the 2020 iterations of their festivals. As of now, they seem to be handling their ticketing situations similarly. Initially, Bass Coast had a fairly confusing raffling system for ticket-holders to exchange their current ticket for a pass to one of the following three years (2021, 2022, 2023) editions of the festival. After some backlash, the team acknowledged the concerns, and have since adjusted their system.
Like Bass Coast, Shambhala is not offering refunds, while allowing ticket-holders to hold their ticket for any of the following three years of festivals. Rather than having ticket-holders register for a site and taking time-stamped submissions, Shambhala is communicating with patrons directly- via email.
They don’t have any hard, and fast, due dates for knowing which future festival you’d like to attend, yet, with a late-fall deadline currently in the works. Shambhala has, like EDC, put together a nice FAQ site, delving deep into next year’s festival, ticket concerns, and more.
UPDATE: Beyond Wonderland at The Gorge 2020 has been canceled. Current plans are to debut the festival in 2021. Tickets to the 2020 show are good for the 2021 event, along with some free upgrades. Refunds are also available for those interested. Ticket purchasers should expect an email with more details from Insomniac in the near future.
Beyond Wonderland is still currently slated for mid-June, and tickets are still on-sale. With Washington’s stay-home order extended through the month of May, a major festival taking place a couple of weeks later seems like a stretch. But, as of now, we’re still waiting for official word from Insomniac Events boss Pasquale Rotella.
The latest updates from Rotella are more centered around EDC and California’s Insomniac events, but we’re expecting an update regarding Beyond Wonderland at The Gorge sometime in the next couple of weeks. If the way the company has handled EDC Las Vegas is any sort of indicator, a postponement to later in the year is a possibility, as is the potential for refunds should it be postponed or canceled.
The last we heard from Bass Canyon, at the end of March, the late-August festival was still a go. Led by British Columbia’s Excision, the bass-fueled event, like his other festival Lost Lands, are moving forward as planned. Whether or not that changes as the summer goes on remains to be seen.
While both websites are still selling tickets to these events, it’s nice to know that the team behind them have some time to plan, should they get postponed or canceled. We don’t know how the festivals will handle potential refunds, or exchanges for future festivals, but those routes seem to be the most popular among event companies given the current circumstances.
Until we know more, we can enjoy more bass-heavy live-sets and performances from the comfort of our homes in the form of “Couch Lands”.
— Bass Canyon (@BassCanyon) March 30, 2020
Let us know what you think about the way festivals are handling ticketing situations for postponed and canceled events, and how your experiences exchanging tickets or getting refunds has been. Share your thoughts with us by commenting below, on Facebook, or replying on Twitter!
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