Why so many Australian music festivals are being cancelled

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Splendour in the Grass has become the latest Aussie music festival to be cancelled in recent months – and one insider has revealed exactly why these events keep failing.

On Wednesday afternoon, Splendour in the Grass 2024 was officially cancelled.

Promoters released a statement confirming the news online, citing “unexpected events” and adding that they would be “taking the year off”.

“With a heavy heart, we’re announcing the cancellation of Splendour in the Grass 2024, originally scheduled from Friday 19 July to Sunday 21 July in Ngarindjin / North Byron Parklands,” the statement read.

The annual festival, held at the North Byron Parklands in far north New South Wales, was scheduled to begin in July.

Reports from other media outlets that organisers have “pulled the plug” has sent many revellers into a frenzy, and they have hit the festival’s social media pages desperately seeking confirmation.

Australian superstar Kylie Minogue was billed to headline, and G Flip, Tash Sultana, Angie McMahon, Confidence Man, and other local acts were also expected to appear.

The once hugely popular festival has joined the growing list of events to be canned or indefinitely postponed in recent times, including Groovin The Moo, Falls Festival, Dark Mofo, Coastal Jam, Goomfest and ValleyWays, to name a few.

Following the shock announcment, festival owner Danny Grant has revealed exactly why so many music festivals seem to be crashing in 2024.

Speaking to news.com.au, Mr Grant revealed he feels there is a “change in tide” happening, with festival juggernauts “falling over” while other, more nieche events, are breaking records.

“People are spending but are being very cautious where they spend it. It currently seems no one is bulletproof proof, you are as good as your line up and how on the pulse your bookers are,” he said.

“Niche events like Good Things, HSU and Red Hot Summer red are doing unprecedented ticket sales. Souled Out, Listen Out, BTV and Spilt Milk broke records this year.”

He guessed the “only reason” Splendour would be cancelling is due to lower than expected ticket sales.

“They’ve had a nightmare run the last four years. I hope they can recover and are not just another great part of Australian music history.”

REVEALED why music festival keep getting cancelled in Australia

Mr Grant recently made a TikTok video explaining some of the major reasons festivals keep being cancelled across the country.

He claimed a big part is due to the Covid “hangover” currently being experienced in the industry.

“After Covid 2020-2022 the government pumped a whole lot of cash into festivals. They used this to buy massive artists. After Covid we had this fake economy, this false economy of artists coming through, every single lineup was packed to the brim,” he said.

“With such massive amounts of money in Australia, everyone was getting a taste of that pie. All the festival lineups were stacked double, triple, more than they would normally be.”

As a result of this cash injection, festivals that would normally bring in 10,000 people were able to attract closer to 20,000 due to the quality of their lineups.

However, now that things are returning to normal post-Covid, Mr Grant said the false economy has been pulled out from under festival promoters, and they suddenly have these 20,000-person festivals but have returned to a 10,000-person budget.

“So they have got to go back one step and basically lower the line up. So when they lower the line up, people are getting pissed off about it and they are saying, ‘Well I am not going to support that and go to this because the line up is not as good as the year before’,” he said.

However, the biggest reason why festivals are “flopping all over the country”, in Mr Grant’s opinion, is due to low ticket sales.

Pre-Covid, music festivals were selling out quickly, and people were signing up for prerelease tickets to ensure they got a spot.

Now, there has been a massive decrease in pre-ticket sales, and people aren’t worried about tickets selling out so they aren’t as motivated to secure their spot early on.

Using Groovin The Moo as an example, he estimated the five events they planned to run would cost between $15m and $16m, adding that their line up was “relatively big”.

“If you sell hundreds of tickets or even just a couple of thousand, you aren’t running that show. There is no one crazy enough to do that,” Mr Grant explained.

“So when they are looking down the line, they need to decide if they are going to cancel now, or they are going to hold off. Basically, if they cancel now they are going to rip up the artist deposits and they can move forward.

“They don’t have to pay for the infrastructure, they don’t have to pay the final amounts and all the other shit that goes into a festival. They might tear up, for arguments sake, a $1m, if they run and lose, they might lose $8m to $10m.”

Mr Grant said the current festival economy is “really awkward and weird” and many organisers are choosing to play it safe by cancelling and coming back when the situation is more stable.

Furious festivalgoers have flooded the Splendour in the Grass social media pages in the wake of the cancellation news, with some questioning whether it was a sign that festivals are “done” in Australia.

“Such BS booked flights, accommodation and paid for tickets, maybe a better plan next time, I think festivals are done,” one said.

“I was looking forward to a three day bender with some good music absolutely devastating,” another wrote.

Another simply asked: “How could you do this?”.

However, many commenters claimed they weren’t surprised that the festival had been canned.

“Well it was either gonna flop, or get cancelled, I think they made the right decision, maybe get a better lineup next time,” one person wrote.

“Anyone that thought this was ever going ahead is kidding themselves,” another said.

Earlier today, Greens senator for South Australia, Sarah Hanson-Young, said the news of the cancellation paints a grim picture of Australia’s arts and live music scene.

“Another festival in Australia which is unable to go ahead because of all the pressures and cost associated,” she said in a passionate address.

“This is another festival in a long list that of those that have had to be cancelled by organisers over the last few months.

“Arts and music is such an important part of what makes life great. It also is an important part of our economy.

“Thousands of people, because of today’s decision to cancel Splendour in the Grass, will be out of work. Thousands of people will be scratching around thinking how they’re going to pay their bills.”

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