On Saturday, June 24th, Madonna was found unresponsive in her hotel room. She was rushed to the hospital where it was discovered she was suffering from a “serious bacterial infection” that required her to be intubated in the ICU for at least one night. While her people put out a rosy spin by stating that she’s been discharged and is expected to make a full recovery, Madge had been violently ill and bedridden until recently. On June 28th, Guy Oseary, Madonna’s long-time manager, told her fans that all her upcoming commitments, including her tour scheduled to start on July 15th, were postponed until further notice. So, what happens when an artist like Madonna must postpone or cancel a major tour due to health, personal or other unfortunate circumstances?
Any postponement or cancellation of dates on a major, multi-city tour creates a logistical nightmare and results in losses of millions, sometimes tens of millions of dollars – even for just a few rescheduled dates. Outright cancellations of tour dates are rare as those are even more costly than postponements. That is why, even if ill, most artists will try to go on with the show to spare themselves of the cost and scheduling headaches. Not to mention the multitudes of disappointed and, possibly, angry fans, particularly those who booked nonrefundable flights and hotel rooms. Besides illness, shows can also be called off due to severe weather, damaged sets or inability to obtain proper visas.
So, what happens when a major artist has to postpone a tour? As soon it is clear that an artist, like Madonna, can’t perform, the artist’s phone tree goes into overdrive as the tour manager, producer, insurer and various venues and vendors will all be notified of any postponement or cancellations of dates. And who will be most affected by postponements? Everyone involved: the tour producer, the artist and her team, the venues and vendors – and her fans will all suffer financial losses.
According to several sources, Madonna’s team was set to spend millions on equipment, infrastructure, production pieces, custom-built sets, chartered buses, trucks, rented venues and so much more to bring this tour to life. All tours have insurance, but not all expenses will necessarily be covered. That means all parties – including the artist, Live Nation (the tour producer), venues and staff, backing musicians, dancers, costumers, ticket takers and merchandize sellers – will take a hit here. And, due to the postponement, many – if not all – of the equipment, production pieces and vehicles will now have to be redirected to other tours. But, if those goods and services are unable to be repurposed and used for other tours, Live Nation and Madonna will have to pay for the cost of them in full, regardless of whether she ends up using them or not.
However, without a doubt, the largest group impacted by this particular postponement is the approximately 1.2 million fans who purchased tickets for the tour. Given the magnitude of a tour like Madonna’s, some contingency dates may have been baked into the scheduling, but that doesn’t help fans who have already booked nonrefundable airline tickets or hotel rooms. Those fans will now have to make new plans after Madonna announces the new dates for the tour or, for those who can no longer attend, obtain a refund or sell their tickets to other fans or to a re-sale site like StubHub or Vivid Seats.
As of right now, Madonna and her team have not released any officially rescheduled dates for her tour. But, on July 10th, Madonna posted on Twitter that the current plan is to reschedule the North American leg of her tour and, instead, begin touring in Europe in October.