With the bands of Harvest Festival confirming it as cancelled, it looks as though Soundwave promoter AJ Maddah has found a new investment. Reports that the outspoken touring mogul bought rival Ken West out of his share of Big Day Out broke in the past hour and have just now been confirmed.
Amidst the deluge of rumours, theMusic.com.au has confirmed that the transaction between two of Australia’s foremost music industry figures has indeed taken place. AJ Maddah now owns Ken West’s stake in Australia’s most iconic music festival. Maddah has not yet commented on the buy-out, with sources from within the Big Day Out camp confirming it to the press, reportedly labelling it a “done deal.”
This afternoon, BDO founder and promoter Vivian Lees appeared on triple j’s current affairs program Hack to discuss the deal. “I’m hearing that Ken is withdrawing from the situation and I’m very concerned for him,” said Lees “I am alarmed at what I have heard.” Indicating bad blood between the two figures, Lees described the notoriously outspoken and terse Maddah as an “odious character.”
Lees continued his criticism of Maddah, even attacking the business savvy of the promoter, who was recently named Australia’s most powerful music figure, saying “I’m a little dismayed that AJ has come into the picture. When I see the amount of work that has gone into building up the event over a 22-year period, and then to see [Maddah] come in to take it over really does alarm me. He plays fast and loose.”
Lees went on to criticise Maddah’s business practices and his commitment to projects. However not all of the BDO higher-ups were as quick to condemn the Soundwave promoter, with CEO Adam Zammit tweeting “AJ Maddah was basically Viv Lee’s only source of artist insight or Music knowledge for a decade…why do the old always hate the young??”
Ken West himself had previously attacked Maddah, describing him as a “financial anarchist” in a 2012 interview with The Vine. The BDO alum continued his lambasting, saying “I’ll say it to his face – I don’t think AJ’s got any interest in anything but his own agenda. He hasn’t got any interest in the Australian music scene whatsoever…There’s no financial logic to what he’s doing, and I’ve just got to ride that out. That’s all it really comes down to.”
UPDATE: Keeping with his usual MO, Maddah took to Twitter to answer a few fan questions about Harvest Festival and one that pertained to his involvement with Big Day Out.
A fan tweeted the promoter to congratulate him on his purchase, to which Maddah replied “As usual, the rumours are a bit exaggerated and not quite as sensational.” No further details have been revealed and it’s not yet clear what this could mean for Maddah or Big Day Out.
Maddah also took the time to assure any punters who have purchased Harvest Festival tickets, that they will be “refunded 100%” for the price of purchase as well as “all charges.”
He confirmed that the likelihood of the festival’s cancellation is an unfortunate “99%”, but insisted that he is “desperately trying to seek the best outcome for everyone.”
Music Feeds will keep you updated as more information comes in.