According to an email sent by Ultra organizers to ticket holders around midnight Monday and reviewed by Rolling Stone, would-be attendees were offered a benefit package to supplement their tickets, which the company said would be valid for the 2021 or 2022 Miami festivals — but the email made no mention of a potential refund. Ticket holders are being given until April 9th to decide which festival they would attend.
Ultra’s benefits included 50% discounts for merchandise — as long as the purchase was for $250 or less — along with a free ticket to an Ultra Worldwide event and exclusive access to purchasing other Ultra Worldwide event tickets. South by Southwest, which was forced to cancel its annual festival last week, similarly notified would-be attendees through email on Friday that their tickets would be valid for the 2021, 2022 and 2023 SXSW festivals but also didn’t specify if they would offer refunds.
“We are allowing registrants to defer for up to three years — through the 2023 event,” a SXSW spokesperson told Rolling Stone. “We are also working on other ways to add value to their deferred registration so not only will they be able to take advantage of a future SXSW but there will be extra benefits included, as well.” The company did not reply to a follow-up email asking what those “extra benefits” may be.
Ultra, like most music festivals, has a clause in its terms and conditions that reserves the company the right to postpone their events and reschedule without issuing refunds, or to issue a comparable “make good” offering in the event of an event cancellation. SXSW also has a no-refund specification in its terms and conditions. Representatives for the Ultra Music Festival did not reply to multiple requests for comment.
While the festivals’ actions seem to operate within those terms and conditions, many Ultra ticket holders were vocal in their frustration online, angered that their only option was to keep a costly ticket for a concert they may no longer be able to attend.
How do you cancel or “suspend” ultra and not give refunds???? You’re just holding peoples money hostage. A 2021 ticket isn’t what they bought. How is that not illegal????? Lmfao
— EX🧑🏼🚀 (@EchoXrayMusic) March 10, 2020
Ultra said: “Store Credit Only”
— AwLondy (@The_Only_London) March 10, 2020
Until last week, coronavirus had mainly impacted the international live music scene. Ultra was the first major festival in the U.S. to announce its cancellation because of COVID-19. Local Miami officials called for the cancellation early last week, and the festival was officially canceled on Friday. South by Southwest was cancelled a few hours later through a local emergency declaration from Austin mayor Steve Adler. On Tuesday night, Coachella, the most prominent festival in the U.S., postponed its event until October.
Multiple major music events in Miami have been cancelled in the past week; on Monday, Miami’s Winter Music Conference was also canceled, the festival’s organizers announced.
COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are now 938 confirmed cases in the country, and it has killed 29 people.