Another major festival silenced as ‘panic’ ripples through music industry

Groovin the Moo announced they were cancelling all six regional festivals, including the Sunshine Coast, just eight days after tickets went on sale.

Splendour in the Grass 2024 was also scrapped last month.

Caloundra Music Festival director Richie Eyles said there were a number of factors behind the decision not to run the October event.

“The economy is probably the biggest one,” he said.

“People are doing it tough, disposable income is not there, and ticket sales, concerts, festivals are one of the first things to go.”

US hip hop icons Arrested Development performing at the 2023 Caloundra Music Festival.(Supplied: Caloundra Music Festival)

Mr Eyles said the costs associated with hosting large-scale events had also risen significantly.

“The only sensible decision we could have made at this point in time was to cancel this year’s event because the numbers didn’t add up. But let’s hope that’s not the way it stays,” the festival director said.

“We’ve been on a great ride for the past 17 years at Caloundra and we’ve put on some fabulous artists and great memories.

“We’ve all got our fingers crossed for a return in 2025.”

‘Ripple effect’ through the industry

The Sunshine Coast’s annual Big Pineapple Music Festival is still on track to be held in October following a three-year hiatus. 

Festival director Mark Pico said he was “gobsmacked” to hear the Caloundra event would not be going ahead.

Man smiling at camera

Mr Pico said it was “scary times” for the industry, but his festival was still on track for this year.(Supplied: Mark Pico)

“It’s heartbreaking because you know what they have to do to try and make it over the line every year,” Mr Pico said.

“You know the history that’s gone into making their event so special. It’s horrible.

“There’s kind of panic all throughout the industry.

“Many bands we’ve spoken to that are from overseas are too scared to come over for this year.

“Economics is one thing, but then there are all these other parts that make a festival come together that are not lining up at the moment. There’s a ripple effect.”

Mr Pico said his event relied predominantly on Australian acts, and it had also made changes to adapt to the tough economic climate.

“We have to move with the environment and expect maybe a few less numbers, but we’ve got time,” Mr Pico said.

“You can’t be stupid and sail into a cyclone full steam ahead going ‘we’re going to be unscathed here’.”

People enjoying festival, large pineapple behind

The Big Pineapple Music Festival was last held in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.(Supplied: Big Pineapple Music Festival)

Keeping music alive

The Caloundra Music Festival has been a launch pad for many local artists, including Andrea Kirwin who first performed there in 2014.

“I’d just released my first album. Playing Caloundra Music Festival was and is a big deal for local acts,” Ms Kirwin said.

The artist and music producer said many in the industry had been forced to find other work due to the ongoing uncertainty.

“It’s got to be something we address as a whole to make it more sustainable,” she said.

“I think the old model might be changing, the idea that people will spend that kind of money on a weekend and be able to sustain doing that for multiple events a year.

woman sitting with guitar, smiling

Ms Kirwin said the public needed to champion local artists, venues and events in order to keep them going.(Supplied: Andrea Kirwin)

“I think people are looking for an experience where they can feel closer to the artists. Smaller venues might do better coming out of this.”

Mr Pico said the public also needed to support their favourite events, either by buying tickets or spreading the word.

“Because if you don’t it possibly won’t be there next year, and there’ll be a giant hole in your social calendar,” he said.

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