Australia’s most iconic music festival, Big Day Out, could soon become the Australian leg of the US’ foremost alt-rock festival, Lollapalooza. Rumours have started circulating that economic hardships could see BDO being bought out by US company C3, who already own part of the festival.
According to an article in The Age, Big Day Out is projected to lose $10 million over next year’s event. Organisers have already canceled the festival’s second Sydney date, with the New Zealand leg looking like it’s next on the chopping block.
With times this tough, Age senior writer Chris Johnston says that Australia’s most beloved festival could fold, to return as “an Australian franchise of the big American festival Lollapalooza.” Festival co-founder Ken West last year brought Lollapalooza promoters C3 over to BDO.
The promoters behind Lollapalooza Festival and Austin City Limits Music Festival, the partnership was designed to allow Big Day Out to expand and to increase its artist buying power. Earlier this year, Ken West also welcomed Soundwave promoter AJ Maddah into the fold.
2013 has been a notoriously tough year for the Australian festival market, with multiple festivals seeing cancellation and several promoters suffering takeovers while others face financial collapse. Even Maddah was forced to cancel Harvest Festival after anaemic ticket sales.
However Maddah remains steadfastly optimistic about Big Day Out, telling Fairfax in an email “This is where the reasonable man test comes in. If BDO was such a basket case, why would I, the single most sensible individual in this industry, get involved?”
Maddah labeled the rumours of BDO’s sickliness “nonsense” and the result of the industry’s status as “a large sewing circle” where false rumours abound, writing “If these sources are to be believed, then we are all on death’s (sic) bed and a meteor is headed for [Michael] Gudinski’s office.”
When news of Maddah’s buying-in to Big Day Out first broke, former festival partner Vivian Lees, who left the industry in 2011, told triple j that Maddah’s appearance was another indicator of the festival’s hardships and the result of Ken West selling out.
Watch: Interview: Adam Zammit And Ken West Talk Big Day Out 2014 Lineup – Part 3