On March 6, Ultra Music Festival, an electronic music festival that attracts attendees from more than 100 countries annually, announced that their Miami event would be canceled for the first time in its 22-year history “due to the Florida Governor’s declaration of a public health emergency,” stemming from the novel coronavirus.
Three days later, festival organizers announced that no refunds would be offered, but all Ultra Miami 2020 tickets would be honored in either 2021 or 2022. Pass holders have been given 30 days to choose which event they would like to attend.
Now, you can’t always get what you want, but, according to Ultra’s Refund Policy, upon cancellation of the entire event, you can get: a partial refund, a full refund, a postponement or a “make good.” In the email sent on March 9, festival officials detailed what this “make good” would consist of, and though it seems to be as “make good” as it’ll get, I think it could’ve been made better.
They call it a “benefit package.” One benefit is an “Extra Ultra Hour: An Exclusive Main Stage Headline DJ performance at Ultra Miami 2021 for 2020 ticket purchasers that takes place an hour before the festival begins. Unfortunately, it’s only available to those attending the 2021 event and, in reality, it’s not necessarily as simple as just deciding to go a different year.
It’s especially difficult to predict the future and know whether or not you’ll be available on March 26, 27 and 28 of 2021. So, you can only imagine how hard it might be to know what you’ll be doing in March 2022.
But worry not! Can’t make the 2021 event? That’s just more money left over to spend on these other benefits! These packages also include a discount code for merchandise, a discounted ticket upgrade, and two discounted tickets to Ultra Miami 2021 for each 2020 ticket purchased. Purchasers also get one ticket to either an Ultra Worldwide or Resistance event, excluding Ultra Miami.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it’s an awful deal and, if anything, I’d say, this proposition is at least decent. Not only do ticket holders get to attend next year’s event if they choose to, but they get to attend an additional elsewhere, whether it be in or out of the country.
This is just one of those cases where it’s the principle of the matter, more so than the matter itself, that is bothersome. On that same sad morning of March 6, SXSW, a festival in Austin celebrating the convergence of film and music industries, also announced its cancellation, and that no refunds would be issued. Having no insurance to cover the pandemic, SXSW explained that it had taken a hard hit and was forced to lay off a third of their year-round staff due to this cancelation.
This may very well be a similar case for Ultra Miami as well. The difference is that SXSW explained. SXSW officials seem genuinely distraught by this cancellation and its consequences, while Ultra seems very content with their side of the deal. And they should be.
Not only do they get to keep all of the money accumulated from 2020 ticket sales, but they also used this wonderful opportunity to promote next year’s event, merchandise, upgraded ticket options and other international events. It definitely seems like a smart move on Ultra’s behalf; it just lacks integrity. Even SXSW is giving ticket holders three years to make alternative arrangements.