The Year In Oz

The dominant issue was the bursting of the touring and festival bubble after a five-year spirited growth.

The problem was the Australian dollar, which, after reaching near-par with the U.S. dollar mid-year, plunged to 67 cents.
Most international tours are paid in American dollars. As a result, many tours signed during the dollar’s high were seriously disadvantaged.

Visits from Paul McCartney, Neil Diamond, Green Day and Metallica were delayed.

Negotiations for an early 2009 visit by Madonna were abandoned when it was estimated tickets would be priced at $400 each.
“How this [Australian] summer goes will give an idea of how the circuit will be through 2009,” says Michael Chugg.

The festival circuit also started to unbuckle. Low ticket sales saw the cancellation of The Great Escape and the Hot Barbeque rave, while it was decided to abandon The Point Nepean Experience in March.

Promoter Michael Coppel explains, “We’re too over-festivaled. Too many new players are coming in thinking it’s easy. The same acts are stretched thin over too many similar festivals.” Festival ticket sales are estimated to be down 30 percent.

“Competition for acts is cutthroat,” confirms Vivian Lees of Big Day Out.

Modular’s Nevereverland dance tour in December cut some lower-profile acts to slash costs and April’s V festival has axed one of the dance stages.