Ken West spoke to Tom Tilly on Triple J last night and tried to explain the mess Big Day Out is in. Yesterday Big Day Out announced a mediocre second announcement as well as the downsizing of the Perth and Adeailde venues along with the fact that Kayne West and Odd Future would no longer be making the trip to New Zealand, Adelaide and Perth. While Ken West has tried to beat around the bush and claim that low ticket sales were not the problem, it’s clear that the low ticket sales was the major issue.
West stated that new noise abatement measures were bought into play in Perth and that council were loading costs onto the Big Day Out, making it impossible to stage the show.
When asked what else the council had bought on him since tickets went on sale, West replied:
A minimum attendance payment of a full house really.
The interviewer then put it to him that ticket sales were the reason for the cancellation and West Replied:
Ticket sales are always an object but please don’t just focus on that at the moment cause the thing is I’ve never been scared of losing money because that’s what promoters risk.
Well it seems he was scared of losing money because not only did he downgrade the Perth venue where the apparent problems arose but he also pulled Kayne West and Odd Future from the New Zealand and Adealide line-ups as well, where there was no talk of council problems.
The interviewer then asked him why he didn’t know at least some of these factors before he announced Kayne West on the line-up, to which West replied:
Well because these things come up from time to time and that we have had situations before where Bjork lost her voice the day before and we had to offer refunds and we had the Limp Bizkit tragedy with Jessica in 2001 where the continuation of the show goes into doubt. It’s a very organic challenge to be able to produce this show to the standard everyone’s proud of … Going into Perth and Adelaide with 40,000 people to break even is a very scary thing to do, when all I did was try to start a festival over there that was going to be fun.
Tilly then asked West how he would be compensating fans, West replied:
My advice at the moment is to chill out for a week and have a think about it … A $20 merch voucher or an option of a refund.
Tilly then asked if he thought a $20 merch voucher was fair compensation on a $165 ticket when the festival had lost a key headliner.
Mmm … No I’m trying to come up with something else as well but I just needed to start the ball rolling there.
Tilly followed that with one last question, ‘Ken are you worried that the festival market is really weakening and you’ll have to rethink about how much you can deliver in the future.
I know that the festival market is really in trouble … It might be a very different landscape in 12 months time and your favorite festival might be gone.
So there it is, a 10 minute interview and really no solid explanation; the reality is that West has grown old and hasn’t adapted to his new target fanbase or new media. Although he says he doesn’t care about losing money, it seems that he does and after a poor marketing campaign and a poor line-up he had no option but to downsize the Adelaide, Perth and New Zealand shows and to pull Kayne West from the line-ups.
Listen to the full interview