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MetalDays calls it quits: ‘We were too proud, too naive’

The Slovenian festival has published a five-page statement detailing a raft of issues and mistakes that ultimately led to the event's demise

By Lisa Henderson on 09 Jul 2024

Slovenia’s MetalDays festival will not return, organisers today (9 July) announced in a remarkably candid and lengthy statement.

The five-page statement details a raft of issues and mistakes that ultimately led to the event’s demise, with the organisers apologising for “refunds not returned, unpaid bands, and unsettled production expenses”.

“We made mistakes that, even though they occurred during unprecedented times, should not have been made by promoters with our level of expertise,” it reads.

The laundry list of issues named by organisers includes financial losses caused by Covid-19, severe flooding at the 2023 edition, the cost-of-living crisis and significant operational cost increases.

Organisers say they offered the company and brand to “all the major players” including Live Nation, Festival Republic and Superstruct Entertainment, and approached major festivals to take it over to fulfil obligations that remained.

“Regrettably, despite our best efforts, this did not happen, and it is just not economically feasible to continue,” they added.

“We made mistakes that should not have been made by promoters with our level of expertise”

The statement pointed to Covid-19 cancellations in 2020 and 2021 as the beginning of the downturn for the company, adding that the organisation didn’t have any savings and “almost didn’t get any financial help from the government”.

Despite struggling with regular expenses like office rentals, storage house rentals, and employee wages, organisers admitted they “didn’t change anything regarding our regular expenses”.

“Our judgment was wrong, and it was a mistake to continue our business affairs as if nothing had happened,” they added.

In 2021, MetalDays considered filing for bankruptcy but instead took a private loan to “be able to survive as a company and to slowly return requested refunds”.

“Could we have known this in advance and should we have declared bankruptcy before the 2022 edition? Probably. Now that sounds like the right decision. At the time, it didn’t seem like an option at all. We were too proud and too naive.”

The festival promised to refund tickets to those who didn’t want to roll them over to the 2022 edition but by then, “all production costs had risen (in some cases by 300%), but we were sold out with ticket prices too low that were calculated before March 2020”.

“Should we have declared bankruptcy before the 2022 edition? Probably”

In addition, they had “already used all the loan funds for refunds and to keep the business alive. Without a ticket price increase and with all the unexpected price rises, we kept pushing back the refunds, creating a bad vibe going into an already sensitive [2022] festival edition.”

Prior to the 2022 edition, the festival was due to move from Tolmin to a new venue but plans were hampered by Covid-19. When construction started on a bypass road that split the site, the event’s capacity was slashed from 12,000 to 7,000.

“This not only increased costs but also limited our ability to sell additional tickets at a reasonable price in 2022,” reads the statement. “Managing this was a logistical nightmare that resulted in significant production expenses and visitors’ dissatisfaction.”

Issues surrounding the 2022 edition were compounded by the introduction of a cashless payment system, managed by the festival’s longtime gastronomy partner Amaia Esa. MetalDays alleges that the firm did not honour contracts and unlawfully withheld a significant portion of the money owed to the MetalDays organising company.

The statement also mentioned former crew members setting up a rival metal festival in Tolmin after MetalDays’ final edition at the site, and accused them of igniting a smear campaign in local press.

“In total, well over half a million of private funds were invested by shareholders in MetalDays from 2021 until 2023”

In 2023, the festival attempted to atone for previous issues by “excessively spending” on the lineup. The organisers say they had sold a portion of shares in the MetalDays promoting company, which was invested in the 2023 edition.

“One shareholder also took an additional loan, which was likewise invested in MetalDays 2023. In total, well over half a million of private funds were invested by shareholders in MetalDays from 2021 until 2023, covering both production costs of 2023 and processed refunds.”

Severe flooding cut the 2023 festival short by two days, resulting in further losses for the organisation. Fans showed their sympathy by purchasing pre-sale tickets for 2024 and the festival claims that, with that money, it would have been able to cover all 2023 production expenses, including bands.

“If we could survive this financially, we believe this unfortunate event would create such a strong bond between visitors and that it would have a positive outcome in the end. However crazy this may sound. Unfortunately, promised state aid still didn’t arrive, and this edition lived to be our last one.”

“We are sorry for refunds not returned, unpaid bands, and unsettled production expenses more than you can imagine”

The 2024 edition was cancelled in January, with tickets once again rolled over to 2025, which will not take place.

“We’re not looking for excuses,” concludes the statement. “Our goal is to present the last four MetalDays years and all significant events as they truly happened. We had to think like businessmen when COVID-19 started and we should have declared bankruptcy back then. Being proud, being friendly, and relying on luck has no place in business.

“Many individuals and companies would have not been harmed if this decision had been made at the right time. We wish to apologize to each one of them. We are sorry for refunds not returned, unpaid bands, and unsettled production expenses more than you can imagine. We now know what we could and should have done differently. However, the global pandemic and historic flood created challenges that were too big for us to manage effectively at the time.

“When we return, it will be with something new, exciting, and capable of setting a new trend. And most importantly, funds must be available before the first ticket is sold.”

MetalDays launched in 2013 and has attracted bands including Megadeth, Slayer, Amon Amarth, Volbeat and Sabaton.

Read the full statement here: https://www.metaldays.net/


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