After it was confirmed back in February that Soundwave would no longer make a stop in Adelaide after the conclusion of the festival’s 2015 event, promoter AJ Maddah wasted no time in explaining his actions.
Speaking to FasterLouder, the outspoken promoter was characteristically blunt, attributing the Adelaide leg’s lacklustre ticket sales to the general malaise currently affecting the South Australian capital.
“Everything from One Direction to the Foo Fighters is failing in Adelaide, I don’t think it’s an isolated thing,” he said. “Nothing has worked in Adelaide in the recent past aside from the Rolling Stones and Katy Perry.”
“I’ve had to cut down the club and theatre shows I’ve been putting through Adelaide simply because nothing’s selling. There is a general aura of depression in Adelaide at the moment,” Maddah continued.
“Obviously, how much bad news can you take? From the federal government not backing the auto industry down there to the uncertainty about submarine [construction].” When it came down to it, Soundwave’s target demographic just didn’t have the money to spend.
“South Australia has the highest youth unemployment rate in [mainland] Australia, and guess what? That’s the market that we’re selling tickets to. We’re not selling tickets to wealthy retirees,” said Maddah.
But according to a new study, the issue isn’t isolated to South Australia, it’s a national problem. As The Age reports, new research finds most members of Generation Y are fiscally conservative and have more money than debt.
The inaugural Future Leaders Index is a study of the financial situation of those aged 18-29, put together by accountancy firm BDO and The Co-op. The findings are rather sobering, especially for those in the entertainment industry.
Normally, during a financial downturn, non-essential activities like going out, seeing concerts, and attending festivals are the first thing to be cut from a budget, and cities outside of the East Coast have it the hardest. The numbers essentially illustrate Maddah’s argument.
In a breakdown of disposable wealth (current savings minus debts and not including assets, higher education loans, or mortgage debt), Adelaide ranked the lowest, with 18-29-year-olds in the city having only one tenth of the disposable wealth of other city folk.
“What’s happened in the last decade – the GFC [global financial crisis], softening of the economy, rising unemployment – has really hit [Generation Y] hard,” demographer Mark McCrindle of McCrindle Research said.
Essentially, tour and festival promoters have decided to send their events to where the money is and that’s the East Coast capital cities. The BDO and Co-op study found a significant disparity between the disposable incomes of those in the city and those in rural areas.
Melbourne and Sydney, meanwhile, ranked the highest for disposable wealth as well as savings. Surprisingly however, Perth came in third, a city that Soundwave also cut from their route due to poor ticket sales.
Naturally, there are many other variables at play. Many have noted that Australia may have a saturated market for festivals, as Fairfax did back in 2013, saying that punters have been put off by too many festivals putting on the same events.
Following the collapse of Big Day Out, Nicholas Greco, director of Beyond the Valley, told Crikey, “Going to a festival is a big expense for the patron so it becomes a value thing.” He argued there was more value in going to a multi-day event in one place than a touring one-day event.
However, many are remaining optimistic about the future of the touring festival, like Laneway’s Danny Rogers, who told FasterLouder, “It is still viable. I mean, Falls Festival runs over multiple days across different markets and that’s killing it.”
Falls Festival’s own Simon Daly conceded that it’s tougher to run a national touring event, but showed no indication that he would have it any other way: “It is a harder market, but there is still great stories out there.”