April 17, 2024

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Buzz The Music

Why are so many Australian tunes festivals being cancelled?

Regional touring competition Groovin’ The Moo has introduced its cancellation only 8 times soon after placing tickets on sale, citing reduced demand from customers.

A mainstay of the summer competition calendar, this follows a collection of related cancellations, which include the 2023 edition of Falls Festival, ValleyWays, Coastal Jam and Classic Vibes, and the “pausing” of Hobart’s iconic Dim Mofo for 2024.

So why are we observing so a lot of Australian audio festivals cancelled? And what will the long term of festivals seem like?

Expanding troubles for festivals

The perfectly-documented charge-of-living disaster is an apparent offender when it arrives to low need for festivals, as customers minimize down on expenditures.

Nonetheless, other elements are at participate in in this article. They involve:

1. Higher overheads

Speedily increasing overheads, this sort of as rocketing general public liability insurance expenditures for both of those venues and festivals alike, have an effect on the viability of these kinds of gatherings.

This dilemma commenced with the COVID pandemic, but extraordinary climate activities exacerbated by climate change have compounded these problems as effectively as influencing the viability of out of doors summer time songs festivals.

In 2022 on your own, more than 20 Australian festivals were cancelled mainly because of serious temperature.

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2. Slower income

Prior to the pandemic, issues concerning the oversaturation of the Australian pageant market place were already setting up to bite. Pre-COVID competition cancellations incorporated the close of the Huge Day Out after 20 decades in 2014. The annual celebration commenced to falter in the previous years due to troubles that have compounded in the ten years considering that.

As the pandemic eased and festival producers rushed back again onsite, they have been faced with a essential change in Australian cultural intake practices, significantly amid youthful folks.

Persons are waiting lengthier to obtain tickets. 2023 was the 1st time in in excess of a ten years that Splendour in the Grass, Australia’s most significant solitary-ticket competition, did not sell out within just several hours. The development in the direction of delayed “commitment to purchase” is induce for worry among promoters, who depend on opening-day revenue for momentum and cash.

This modify can be comprehended as a reaction to the rolling cancellations of the pandemic, in mixture with growing ticket charges, domestic economic pressures and fast paced schedules. It is increasingly normal to look for second-hand tickets at decreased rates as an occasion techniques.

3. Youth avoidance

Marketplace observers are involved about a fall in youth attendance. Youthful persons who arrived of age through COVID skipped their essential festival-likely many years and could now have moved on to other cultural encounters – adopted by more youthful siblings. This emphasises the very long cultural tail of an occasion like the pandemic.

The value-of-dwelling disaster specifically affects young individuals, the main viewers for festivals like Groovin’ the Moo. The the greater part of below-35s say monetary force is restricting their attendance at arts gatherings.

4. The consolidation of taste

Even though “variety” festivals these types of as Groovin’ the Moo and Falls Festival – which feature varied, multi-genre lineups – are battling, genre-precise festivals and main artist tours continue to perform effectively.

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These contain metallic and really hard rock festivals these as Very good Items Festival and Knotfest, and major current tours by Queens of the Stone Age, Pink, Blink-182 and, of class, Taylor Swift. The media field and the new music business precisely are dealing with the results of an increasing siloing and consolidation of style inside of certain niches, exacerbated by the digitisation of media by means of extremely curated streaming platforms.

Maybe “variety” tunes festivals are heading the exact same way as the Big Working day Out. The struggles of festivals traditionally backed by Triple J (these kinds of as Groovin’ the Moo and Falls) may expose the nationwide youth broadcaster’s loosening grip on relevance and its incapacity to attraction to a wide viewers in an significantly hyper-curated media atmosphere.

Is this nearly anything new?

The components influencing the good results of a offered festival are complex, as illustrated by the scenario of Groovin’ the Moo. The Newcastle day offered out in much less than an hour, with reviews of robust early sales for the Sunshine Coast edition, nevertheless the in general tour was deemed unable to continue.

Uncertainty is inherent in the music company, exactly where an oversupply of product fulfills a market place pushed by the vagaries of taste.

Pageant programmers have to “forecast” what will draw a crowd, booking performers up to a yr in advance. Nevertheless, mega-crises, these kinds of as the pandemic, weather alter and money shocks, generate deeper uncertainties that essentially challenge enterprise as usual.

Uncertainty poses a profound menace to live audio in certain, which is dependent on advance arranging and investment, with its returns and added benefits hinging on the controlled realisation of future situations. Too significantly uncertainty also stifles innovation and diversity, as the significant multinationals that dominate the songs industry are improved able to face up to its outcomes.

Music festivals are a top web page of Australia’s engagement with the arts, with substantial social and economic positive aspects. They have also turn into a focal issue for a assortment of societal challenges, from economic to environmental crises. Sustaining a lively, numerous and accessible pageant sector will need these challenges to be confronted.

The age of deep uncertainty is not heading absent. For Australia’s assorted festival landscape to endure we will need to come across new methods – this sort of as economic buffers, federal government-backed coverage schemes, big ticket levies, tariffs on big intercontinental excursions, and local weather action and mitigation – to trip and survive this uncertainty.


Penned by Sam Whiting, Lecturer – Inventive Industries, University of South Australia and Ben Environmentally friendly, Study Fellow, Centre for Social and Cultural Investigation, Griffith University

This posting is republished from The Conversation below a Resourceful Commons license. Read through the initial posting.

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