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Untitled Group reflects on its ‘biggest year yet’

Australia’s Untitled Group have racked up record ticket sales for their 2023/24 season in an otherwise challenging period for the domestic market.

The independent promoter sold more than 500,000 tickets last year, hosting in excess of 250 events, as well as booking over 1,000 artists across its festivals, tours and club shows and diversifying into new genres such as pop and country.

Highlights included shows by Christina Aguilera and Zach Bryan, with 30,000 tickets shifted instantly for the latter’s Australian debut, while Dom Dolla sold out 25,000 tickets in just five minutes for two hometown gigs at Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

“We are seeing a positive shift for events that people know will be in demand,” Untitled co-founder and managing partner Michael Christidis tells IQ. “Keen punters don’t want to take the risk in missing out and are buying strongly from the on sale. It ultimately comes down to having a strong product and not giving consumers a false sense of security that tickets will always be available. I’d like to see all shows continue to shift to sell early and late buying patterns continue to fade.”

The company’s recently wrapped New Year’s festival run was its most successful to date, with over 150,000 tickets sold for festivals such as Beyond The Valley, Wildlands and Sun Cycle. Christidis, who was recognised in IQ‘s 2023 New Bosses list, attributes the performance to a combination of factors in “what is a rapidly changing market right now”.

“Growing our touring capacity is something we’re very proud about and will continue to diversify and amplify the tours we bring to Australia”

“Our flagship events such as Beyond The Valley, Pitch Music & Arts and Wildlands have not only built up great brand loyalty for patrons to see strong sales in 2023, but also attract the appropriate top tier talent that want to perform at these events that provide an elevated festival experience,” he says.

“Major headline tours will also be a strong focus. Growing our touring capacity is something we’re very proud about and will continue to diversify and amplify the tours we bring to Australia.”

Victoria’s Beyond The Valley (28 December-1 January) achieved a milestone by selling out 35,000 tickets – making it the largest camping festival in Australia – while the multi-city Wildlands sold 85,000 tickets nationwide. RÜFÜS DU SOL headlined the inaugural New Year’s Eve celebration in Brisbane, followed by events in Perth and Adelaide in early January.

And the final edition of Sun Cycle festival was held at the Coburg Velodrome on New Year’s Day, featuring performances by the likes of Jayda G, Overmono and Lady Shaka. Festival sideshows by Romy, Overmono and Cobrah also sold out.

“Our New Year’s Eve run of festivals established a key focal point for further growth,” says Christidis. “This period has evolved into a critical timeframe for attracting top-tier international talent to Australia. Capitalising on this trend and further enhancing the appeal of the New Year’s Eve period in Australia, being summer in the Southern Hemisphere.”

“Seeing many [festivals] cancel and postpone in 2023 could impact market confidence in consumers tying up funds with new or smaller events”

Elsewhere in Australia, however, the picture is not so rosy: Coastal Jam and Vintage Vibes festivals were called off at short notice earlier this month, with Geelong’s Tent Pole and NSW’s ValleyWays also falling by the wayside this week. Christidis admits to concerns over the “vulnerability” of smaller festivals.

“Seeing many of them cancel and postpone in 2023 could impact market confidence in consumers tying up funds with new or smaller events,” he suggests. “Particularly with the cost of living going up so much, it’s not as easy for patrons to continually make plans and invest in as many shows that are often several months out. This concern will simply see us introduce less new events and concepts, and focus on developing what is already working in market.”

Looking ahead, Untitled is leading the programming for Finals Festival at the Australian Open, featuring headliners Groove Armada, Rudimental, Yaeji, Peach PRC, Tash Sultana, Ruel, The Jungle Giants and DMAs this weekend (25, 27 & 28 January 2024). Pitch Music & Arts will then follow in the Grampians over four days in March.

Moreover, Christidis believes the firm holds an ace up its sleeve.

“We do believe that being independent is a huge advantage against our major competitors,” he adds. “Our team is innovative, agile and passionate about every show we deliver. There are no ulterior motives taken into consideration regarding market share, or bias with service providers, etc – we simply want the best for the shows we produce and the artists we host. It’s good to see this is recognised by more artists, agents and managers around the world that are wanting to work with us.”

 


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Wales’ largest indie promoter enters liquidation

Wales’ largest independent concert promoter Orchard Live has ceased trading and has gone into liquidation, citing “enormously challenging trading conditions”.

The company has promoted shows with acts such as Queens of the Stone Age, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Diana Ross, George Ezra and Sam Fender

But the firm says trading conditions since the onset of Covid-19, compounded by the impact of the cost-of-living pressures on ticket sales, had made it impossible to continue operating.

“Despite the best efforts of a hardworking and very talented team, Orchard Live has been unable to fully recover from the consequences of the pandemic and the ensuing challenging trading conditions,” says a spokesperson for the promoter. “After exploring all possible strategies to avoid this action, the difficult decision has been made to put Orchard Live into creditors voluntary liquidation.

“The past three years have been enormously challenging for the music industry”

“The past three years have been enormously challenging for the music industry and there have been a number of casualties in the sector.”

The statement points out that the company lost summer seasons in 2020 and 2021, and costs increased significantly for rescheduled shows in 2022.

“Despite some great successes, an oversupply of concerts, a slow public return to live events, the cost-of-living crisis and increased competition from national promoters has not produced the required level of sales, leading to unsustainable losses,” adds the spokeperson. “This news will unfortunately be a blow to music lovers in Wales who have been able to enjoy Orchard Live’s work over many years.”

Any ticket-holders for an Orchard Live show are advised to contact the ticket outlet they purchased their ticket from for more information.

 


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