Do artists owe their fans anything for a live performance?

Isn’t this a Self Esteem lyric or maybe a bastardisation of one?

Anyway, it was a thought that has been percolating since last Summer and resumption of proper mass touring. It particularly started when Arctic Monkeys returned to touring and didn’t play any new songs at their shows. You saw online fans who hadn’t been at these shows complaining that they were doing the same show as what they played in 2014(?). So people who aren’t at a show are complaining that what a band is doing at something that they aren’t attending is wrong.

And then this weekend the actions of Frank Ocean (taking out the cancellation of this weekend) and he performed for less time than he was meant to with CRYSTALLMESS DJing in the middle before just having a backing track play for 2 tracks. This was after rumours had leaked of some grand production involving ice skaters, skating round him. If anyone had seen him or heard about the performances in 2017 there were a fair few cancelled performances, a couple had been allegedly incredibly ropey and stop/start. It was even joked about multiple times since 2020 about Frank Ocean not wanting to do this set right up until he went on stage. So there is almost a what do you expect from this artist at this point given previous actions?

Absolute rambly bollocks to get to my point but I’ve written it now.
Do fans have a right to expect anything from an artist in a live performance?

If the rumours of the ice rink etc. had not been leaked and he had performed the set he had would people have been as bothered?

Are the only people the artist should be answerable to are the promoters they sign the contract with? Because for me I suppose you could argue that so long as they turn up on time and are on stage for their allotted time they could just sit on a chair doing some knitting if that’s the set, that’s the set.

I have other thoughts but, cba typing more for now plus it’s way too long.




Should have pointed out this is my position as well.

I think they maybe owe it to those attending their shows to make sure it’s known that they so something different from the ordinary (i.e. play for an hour or so, couple of hits/fan favourites, mostly more recent stuff). Don’t think it has to be some grand announcement, necessarily. Might just be word of mouth. No one should be dictating to artists what they do on stage, but people hand over money generally because they have a certain set of expectations and I think that’s reasonable.


I’m not going to raise a complaint to trading standards or whatever if an artist comes out and farts into a jar instead of playing their hits, but I’d probably still feel ripped off and it would tarnish how I feel about them. So no, they don’t owe fans anything short of an appearance (and look at kid’s entertainer Blippi - he argued he didn’t even owe them that!), but alienating them probably isn’t a good idea either.


I always said MF DOOM was the Blippi of hip-hop


I don’t think I’ve ever been to see a band/artist who has a reputation for being a bit shit/unreliable live. Have you?

  • Yes, and they were alright in the end
  • Yes, and I shouldn’t have bothered
  • No, me neither

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I remember nearly going to see Macy Gray (I had tickets with my then-girlfriend but we broke up and I gave my ticket to her friend). Apparently she was a bit shit/unreliable live

Lauryn Hill most recently. She was brilliant

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Ah interesting - I was going to say “for example, Lauryn Hill”

It’s like anything really, isn’t it, if I buy a kettle and it turns out to be a shit kettle, I’m not buying that brand of kettle again. It was a Russell Hobbs.

Same as if I go to see a band and they’re shit, I just don’t bother going to see them again. Takes a bit longer with a band sometimes as there’s more of an emotional connection, but the concept is the same; if you don’t enjoy that band live, however much you may enjoy them on record, maybe just don’t go and see them play live again. It was Belle & Sebastian.


Absolutely adored the emo band Finch as a teen. Had a rep for being crap live. Can’t remember how many times I saw them, but saw them be appalling and saw them be incredible. Think it’s a different issue to the OP question, mind … Both times they did what I’d expect, just one time much better than the other.

Dylan. An hour late on stage followed by 40 minutes of honky tonk keyboard interpretations of various deep cuts.


Also I just remembered Ian Brown’s recent tour :smiley:


My old band were shit live, but we tried to make sure everyone had fun


Made me think of Japandroids. Know a lot of people like their energy live but I think they’re pretty bad, the songs are almost unrecognisable. I tried them a second time and they were just as terrible. My take was that it was a waste of money, but my waste. Didn’t hold it against them. But if they’d come on stage and did 30 minutes of jazz improv in tutus rather than poorly performed renditions of their big songs, I’d have had a different view.

It’s all wrapped up in the same thing for me. It’s very broad hence why it’s such rambly bollocks.

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can remember zomby was always touch and go as to whether he’d turn up. fortunately was usually on line ups with 3-4 other people worth seeing.

Think this is it isn’t it - it’s about feeling mutual respect maybe. If a band is just not quite my thing live or whatever that’s more my issue, but if they’re taking the piss then that’s a different thing.


I think when people are paying money to see an artist perform they are “owed” an effort on the artist’s part to put on a good show (i.e. don’t just turn up, do a half arsed set and take the cash). It won’t always translate to enjoyment on the part of the punter (that bit’s always going to be subjective), but equally it’s understandable if a set is e.g. exceptionally short or the performer clearly can’t be arsed, that people feel mugged off.