What to do about no-show attendees?

One of the challenging problems in the concert business is people who don’t show up. As a house concert or small venue, even a handful of no-shows can noticeably reduce your artist’s income for the night.

For this reason, some house concert presenters resort to “advanced payments” so that if the guest doesn’t show, they forfeit the “donation” and the artist still gets paid for the empty seat.

However, in our network we still suggest that house concert presenters avoid using a ticketing or advanced payment platform unless they consult with an attorney and a C.P.A. Collecting money online on behalf of artists can create tax liability, and charging a flat fee or ticket fee can create issues with the applicability of your homeowner’s insurance.

We advocate for the use of a “suggested donation,” where the host trains their audience to expect to give the fee in cash at the door, and that money flows directly to the artist at the end of the show.

So what to do about no-shows?

Our solution requires that you have a guest list and keep track of who shows up and doesn’t. Ask guests to cross their names off the guest list as they make their donations, and check the list at the end of the night for errors.

The morning after the show, you get payment options from your artist, and simply send an email to the guests who didn’t show up, like this.

Dear [first],

We were sorry to have you miss this show, as we had saved seats for you. That means we fell short of our expected donations to the artist. If you would, please use one of the following methods to send your donation directly to [act name.]

  • Paypal: [email protected]
  • Venmo: @somecombinationofletters
  • Personal Check (least preferable for artists): Payable to … Address…

Your patronage allows us to help wonderful artists make a living. We hope you can join us for the next one.


Host with the Most

Of course, you can adapt this as you see fit. We find that it is good to keep it positive instead of punitive. You are offering an opportunity to contribute, not a reprimand and punishment.

For attendees who repeatedly RSVP and fail to attend, your best bet is to remove them from your list, or put them on your “B” list… the people you only reach out to when you have trouble filling seats.

I’d love any feedback on this idea, especially if you’ve had success with this idea or something else!