AJ Maddah Says That Festivals Need To Regain Public Trust, Reduce Bar Queues And Treat Fans Like BossesWritten by Tom Williams on November 30, 2013
It has been a shocking year for music festivals, with Blur cancelling their Big Day Out 2014 appearance and Harvest Festival and Homebake both being cancelled, and now two acts have pulled out of Stereosonic 2013 at the last minute, following in Skrillex’s footsteps.
One man at the core of the Australian festival scene is AJ Maddah, who started the rock-focused Soundwave Festival and the more eclectic Harvest Festival. He’s brought the Vans Warped Tour to Australia this year and now plays a role in the Big Day Out after buying out co-founder Ken West.
With Blur’s recent Big Day Out cancellation, Maddah, alongside his American partners C3 Presents, must shave a rumoured $7 million off their operating costs in order to start rebuilding the festival’s iconic brand. They are set to replace Blur with not one but three (still unnamed) international bands.
Speaking with News Limited, Maddah has been quick to reassure festival-goers, saying:
“If there’s an issue, we double down… If you want better toilet facilities, we will do it for everyone. Soundwave is the only festival which gets the toilets service three times a day. Because I have a massive phobia about public toilets.”
Maddah continues to explain how the trust of patrons can only be gained by providing them with value for money: “You have to make sure they have a full day of entertainment and provide enough lines at the gates and food stalls and bars. All those things are important to the value of the day.”
It’s clear that the festival format has a lot of work to do in regaining the trust of punters who are too often left with the possibility of refunds only if they’re lucky. Yet, it’s obvious that promoters and tour operators also have a responsibility to their artists.
With the summer festival season now upon us, high festival ticket prices are expected to live up to all the fun promised by such large amounts of money: a ticket to Future Music Festival is roughly $173, Soundwave $184.65 and Big Day Out $185.
Warped and Stereosonic both hit Sydney this weekend, with Big Day Out kicking off in January 2014, Soundwave in February and Future Music in March.