Things could be about to get interesting in the music festival market here in Australia next year, as another big player has set its sights on the lucrative local market.
Following in the footsteps of C3 Presents, promoters behind Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits who bought into Big Day Out in 2012, one of the world’s most famous electronic music festivals, Ultra, have announced their intentions to expand down under.
Probably the world’s most famous outdoor electronic music festival, ULTRA has won “Best Music Event” by the International Dance Music Awards (IDMA) six consecutive years, from 2005 to 2011, “Best International Dance Music Festival” by the Ibiza DJ Awards in 2008 and “Best Festival” by the Village Voice Media New Times consecutively five years running from 2005 through 2009.
A global brand, ULTRA takes place in Miami, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ibiza and Korea, expanding into Europe with ULTRA EUROPE July 2013 in Croatia.
The Australian announcement was made rather unceremoniously via Ultra Music Festival’s Youtube Channel’s Twitter, which had been promoting the live stream of set from Ultra Music Festival Korea featuring headline slots from Avicii, Armin Van Buuren, and others.
As the festival was busy tweeting about the streams, an Australian fan asked whether the festival would every consider an expansion into Australia, asking for “a three-day festival somewhere remote.” The fan didn’t have to wait long, with the dance behemoth quickly replying, “Yes, it will in 2014.”
According to Inthemix, it’s actually the second time Australia has been mentioned in Ultra Music Festival’s expansion plans, the first being at the event in Miami earlier this year where a reporter heard the mainstage MC running through the stops on UMF’s worldwide expansion. “UMF Australia – that’s the furthest we’re going to go,” he said.
Originally created as a pure EDM (electronic dance music) festival in 1999, ULTRA has grown through the years to present the genre’s hottest, biggest and best headline artists such as The Prodigy, Swedish House Mafia, The Chemical Brothers, Tiësto, David Guetta, deadmau5, Underworld, Kraftwerk, Moby, Fatboy Slim, Justice, Carl Cox and Avicii to name a few.
But recent years has seen the festival also embrace crossover headline bands that incorporate EDM elements in their music and have a history or new beginning in the EDM community and culture such as The Cure, The Killers, New Order, Duran Duran, The Black Eyed Peas, Erasure, M83, Santigold, The Ting Tings, Cut Copy, Empire of the Sun and Bloc Party.
In 2012, global pop icon Madonna appeared as a special surprise guest—the festival’s gift to their fans—to introduce the main stage final headlining artist AVICII, joining him behind the decks to premiere his UMF remix of her new single “Girl Gone Wild.”
The year also was the subject of CAN U FEEL IT, a major documentary feature about the festival, which was shown in over 500 theatres across the United States.
There’s no word yet whether Ultra plan to work in partnership with an Australian promoter, such as Creamfields which teamed up with the promoters behind Aussie dance giant Stereosonic.
Then there’s the Michael Chugg, one of Australia’s biggest and most successful promoters, who recently bought into Homebake and announced last year they will be partnering with Dallas-based Highland Entertainment to bring the American Electronic festival Lights All Night to Australia in 2013.
It’s definitely a change of pace for Chugg Entertainment who are better known for touring rock artists such as John Fogerty, Ben Kweller and Rufus Wainwright, as well as infamous international acts such as Coldplay, The Kooks, The Maccabees, and City & Colour (plus, oddly enough, infamous dog trainer Cesar Millan).
The American based festival – now in its third year internationally – recently announced its 2012 Dallas lineup earlier in the year including electronic heavyweights Tiësto, Avicii, Diplo, Flux Pavilion, A-Trak, and Calvin Harris.
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