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Maddah says Soundwave ‘punished for success’

Soundwave founder AJ Maddah has hit back at reports Adelaide taxpayers have been forced to foot the debt accumulated by the now-defunct festival.

It emerged yesterday that Adelaide City Council (ACC) has agreed to permanently write off more than A$75,000 (US$56,00) owed by the metal festival, with News Corp tabloid The Advertiser writing that Soundwave “has ended up costing ratepayers about $75,000”.

That’s a reductive statement, says Maddah, which ignores the enormous contribution made by Soundwave to the Adelaide area between 2008 and 2015 – in spite of massive year-on-year hikes in rent and alleged abuse of backstage passes by local politicians and their families.

Maddah’s full statement, shared with Music Feeds, is below:

For over a decade Soundwave brought events to Adelaide and over that time provided jobs to thousands of South Australians, hiring thousand of hotel rooms, rental cars, close to $1 million in backstage catering supplied locally, paid ridiculous Adelaide City Council charges and incidentally provided entertainment for South Australian youth – the most marginalised and forgotten section of the South Australian population, with the highest rate of boredom, despondency and suicide.

And over that decade Adelaide City Council constantly punished Soundwave for being a successful event. Doubling and quadrupling the rent at Bonython Park and charging us close to ten times what it charged other events that used the park and employing every third-world tactic imaginable to squeeze the event.

In the meanwhile, council staff, including elected officials, abused the festival’s hospitality, demanded backstage access for their kids who never paid to attend and made a nuisance of themselves at every turn. We took all of this, grimaced and persevered despite the Adelaide market only turning a profit once in the history of the event.

Soundwave incurred catastrophic losses in 2015, with Adelaide accounting for a high portion of the loss. We were simply unable to meet the council’s post-event demands. But over its lifetime, Soundwave was a net contributor to ACC and the taxpayer by a very significant margin.

So, Adelaide City Council, what does the car racing and vanity events sponsored and subsidised by the Council cost the Adelaide taxpayer EVERY SINGLE YEAR?

ACC, however, disputes Maddah’s version of events, saying Soundwave “paid normal rates to use the space as per our rates schedule, plus standard remediation costs which are charged to all event organisers who use the park lands and squares to ensure they are returned to their pre-event state.”

Soundwave, a major touring festival which was also held in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, filed for bankruptcy in 2015 with debts of A$28m.


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‘Hardcore festies’ also key to Australian success

Mirroring the trend seen in the UK and US, festival super-fans – dubbed ‘hardcore festies’ – are driving the majority of festival business in Australia, despite making up only 14% of festivalgoers, research by Eventbrite reveals.

The ticketing company’s State of Australian Music Festivals 2016 study found that while Australian hardcore festies represent a smaller proportion of the overall market than in Britain and America (where they comprise 28% and 20% of festivalgoers, respectively), they still “outrank casual fans in VIP purchasing, social influence and virtually every other aspect of spending, attending and engagement”, with an average annual festival ticket spend of over A$600 (US$459 or £348).

Eventbrite also revealed that, despite the recent disappearance of high-profile music festivals such as Stereosonic and Soundwave, demand remains strong, with 65% of respondents going to the same number or more music festivals this year compared to 2015 and 49% planning to attend more festivals next year.

“While people have a growing appetite for festivals, there are also more festivals than ever before… which is why the hardcore festival fan is so critical”

As in Britain and America, headliners are the number one reason (35%) for attending festivals, with the artist line-up as a whole most important overall (46%).

Hardcore festies’ favourite festivals are (in order) Stereosonic, Groovin the Moo, Soundwave, Falls Festival and Splendour in the Grass.

“While people have a growing appetite for festivals, there are also more festivals than ever before,” says the report, “making it harder for festival producers to turn a profit – which is why the hardcore festival fan is critical to the success of your business.”

Read the report in full at Australian Festival Fans Revealed: What Drives the Most Valuable Festival-Goers to Spend and Attend More.


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