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Australia’s new Festival X to debut this year

Festival X, the new Australian touring festival co-founded by Richie McNeill’s Hardware, ex-Stereosonic promoter Onelove and Live Nation Australasia, is set to launch in three cities this November.

The festival, announced last August but ultimately postponed until 2019, fills a slot left in the Australian festival calendar by dance music event Stereosonic, co-founded by McNeill and Onelove’s Frank Cotela, which at its peak could shift nearly 300,000 tickets across five shows.

In its first year, Festival X will visit open-air venues in Brisbane (RNA Showgrounds, 29 November), Sydney (Sydney Showgrounds, 30 November) and Melbourne (Melbourne Showgrounds, 1 December), “showcasing the best artists from across the world and within Australia to fans right across the Eastern seaboard”.

Headliners are Calvin Harris, Armin van Buuren and Lil Pump, with other performers including Steve Aoki, Blueface and Alison Wonderland.

Hardware Corp founder McNeill comments: “As they say, good things come to those who wait. We’re super excited to be working with Onelove again and the Live Nation team to put together an incredible mix of music in the electronic, pop and urban realms. There are so many amazing artists right now and some amazing creatives we have been working with.

“Something very special is happening here and we’re super-excited about it.”

Adds Cotela: “As we kick off the summer festival season in Australia once more, we hope to create an event that showcases entertainment on the scale we’re known internationally for, with massive artists, epic event production and a focus firmly on fun.

“We’re super excited to be working with Onelove again and the Live Nation team”

“Australia’s most successful electronic music promoters teaming up with the world’s largest touring company can only mean a great day for everyone. Festival X is looking ‘xtra-large’ and we can’t wait.”

Festival X represents McNeill and Cotela’s first collaboration with a major multinational since Totem Onelove Group, owned by the now-defunct SFX Entertainment, was placed into bankruptcy in May 2016. At the time, Onelove was owed US$10.7 million by SFX.

Stereosonic was effectively axed in 2015, after the 2016 edition of the festival was put on indefinite hiatus following SFX’s bankruptcy.

The new festival is organised by Onelove Music Group, a separate entity not connected with SFX.

Formed as a collaboration between industry leaders and teams behind some of Australia’s leading festivals,

Roger Field, CEO of Live Nation Australasia, says: “Festival X is set to wow Australian fans with the best local and international talent, while showcasing a new and exciting festival experience. X is the ultimate pre-summer party fans have been waiting for and deserve. Australia, get ready…”

 


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Stereosonic organisers announce new FestivalX

Stereosonic organisers, Hardware and Onelove, have teamed up with Live Nation to create a new dance and hip-hop music festival. The event, FestivalX, will hit four Australasian cities in November and December later this year.

“FestivalX is going to showcase the best local and international talent while bringing fans a new festival experience,” comments Roger Field, CEO of Live Nation Australasia. “It’s going to be huge, and it’s going to be the pre-summer party fans have been waiting for.”

The festival will mark the start of the summer festival season in the southern hemisphere, a slot that up until 2016 was occupied by Stereosonic itself. Now, the team behind the festival are billing their new event as a “reliable, value for money musical experience,” with the hope it will attract 40,000 fans across its four dates.

“We’ve been working on this for while now and the time is right”

“We’ve been working on this for while now and the time is right,” Hardware’s Richie McNeill explains. In addition to a line up promising “Grammy, Billboard and ARIA Award winners,” McNeill says FestivalX has enlisted “stage designers and builders responsible for some of the most spectacular looking stage designs at Electric Daisy Carnival and ID&T.”

FestivalX represents the first collaboration with a multinational since Totem Onelove Group, owned by the now-defunct SFX Entertainment, was placed into bankruptcy in May 2016. As of February that year, the company was owed US$10.7 million by SFX. The new festival is organised by Onelove Music Group, a separate entity not connected with SFX.

The new event will kick off in Auckland on 29 November, followed by dates in Brisbane (30 November), Sydney (1 December) and Melbourne (2 December). Tickets and line up information will be released later on this year.

 


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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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SFX’s Totem OneLove, Stereosonic promoter, goes bust

Totem OneLove Group, the Australian subsidiary of SFX Entertainment that promotes Stereosonic festival, has declared bankruptcy.

The company, trading as SFX-Totem Operating Pty Ltd, is shown as having entered “external administration” by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and confirmed to theMusic.com.au this morning that administrators have been appointed.

Totem OneLove ASIC administration screenshot

A separate company, Totem OneLove Group Pty Ltd, is currently shown, however, as still being active. IQ has contacted Totem OneLove for clarification.

Totem OneLove and Stereosonic were sold by founders Richie McNeill and Frank Cotela to SFX Entertainment, which filed for bankruptcy in February, in 2013. As of 1 February 2016 the company was owed US$10.7 million by SFX.

Stereosonic itself is on “hiatus” for 2016, although McNeill, who has since moved left Totem OneLove, said earlier this month he doubted the festival would return in 2017.

Stereosonic ‘won’t return’ in 2017

Stereosonic co-founder Richie McNeill says he believes the festival he started in 2007 won’t return after its “hiatus” this year.

The Australian promoter, who sold the dance music event to now-bankrupt SFX Entertainment in 2013, also revealed in an interview with Mixmag that he is planning the launch of two new festivals – one of which, according to a source quoted by theMusic.com.au, is likely to take place on the same weekend as the Sydney leg of the cancelled 2016 Stereosonic festival.

“I am launching a new festival in December [and] have a camping festival launching next year,” he tells Mixmag. “Heaps of tours. Heaps of new events. You’ll just have to wait and see. Can’t let too much out of the bag.”

“I am launching a new festival in December and have a camping festival launching next year. Heaps of new events”

The cancelling of Stereosonic 2016 – the second SFX event, after US Tomorrowland spin-off TomorrowWorld, to be scrapped since the dance music promotion giant went into administration on 1 February – was announced in April, marking the latest in a string of cancellations of major Australian music festivals. Other recent casualties include Future Music, which was scrapped indefinitely by Frontier Touring-owned promoter Mushroom Group in April 2015, AJ Maddah’s Soundwave, which was cancelled in December 2015, a month before it was due to kick off, and Big Day Out, which was bought then promptly shut down by Live Nation’s C3 Presents in June 2014.

McNeill’s new events will likely be promoted via his independent Hardware Group, which recently organised the first edition of Carl Cox’s new Australian event, Pure, in Sydney and Melbourne. He indicated that he would be open to working with fellow Stereosonic co-founder Frank Cotela, again, telling Mixmag: “He has always been forward thinking and we share a passion for the music and putting on shows.”

Another SFX festival bites the dust as Stereosonic cancelled

Australia has lost another major music festival as dance music event Stereosonic has confirmed it will not go ahead in 2016.

The festival – promoted by SFX Entertainment-owned Totem OneLove Group, which at last count was owed US$10.7 million by its bankrupt parent company – is the second SFX event canned since its going into administration on 1 February, after US Tomorrowland spin-off TomorrowWorld, which was called off early last month.

However, like TomorrowWorld, Stereosonic has only said it won’t take place this year: In a post on its Facebook page, the festival said Totem OneLove “is currently working on bringing Stereosonic fans the best festival experience possible. As part of this, we are taking a hiatus during 2016. However, we will return in 2017, bigger and better.”

Whether Stereosonic will, in fact, return bigger and better next year will largely depend on Totem OneLove’s financial health.

As one of SFX’s largest creditors the formerly independent promoter is invested in Robert Sillerman’s ailing conglomerate in a big way. However, legal documents filed in America on 4 April and seen by theMusic.com.au reveal while a number of other SFX festivals, including Mysteryland and, surprisingly, TomorrowWorld, have been granted relief to pay artists from SFX’s stringent post-bankruptcy spending restrictions – SFX must seek approval from a US bankruptcy court before spending a cent – no such agreement has been reached for Stereosonic.

While a number of other festivals have been granted relief from SFX’s stringent post-bankruptcy spending restrictions to pay artists, no such agreement has been reached for Stereosonic

According to festival co-founder Richie McNeill, Stereosonic remains profitable: As fellow co-founder Dror Erez and two other directors, James Beatty and Amanda Hough, resigned from Totem OneLove on 2 February, the day after SFX filed for bankruptcy, he said Stereosonic 2015 saw “a profit increase from the previous year, so there’s no problems on this end” and that the SFX situation “doesn’t affect us”.

Some news outlets are reporting that Stereosonic’s reputation for drug-fuelled excess also contributed to its cancellation. After the 2015 event, which saw at least three people die and 120 more need hospital treatment, South Australian senator Nick Xenophon called for an inquiry into the policing of the festivals, which he said were “awash with pills”.

McNeill countered that he’s “sick of seeing festival organisers being blamed for the idiot, stupid behaviour of narrow-minded individuals that are taking poison, that are poisoning themselves with these cheap, shitty drugs”.

A new Totem OneLove trance festival, Atlantis – The City of Titans, went ahead as planned in Sydney and Melbourne in mid-March.

Other recent festival cancellations in Australia include Future Music, which was scrapped indefinitely by Frontier Touring-owned promoter Mushroom Group in April 2015, AJ Maddah’s Soundwave, which was cancelled in December 2015, a month before it was due to kick off, and Big Day Out, which was bought then promptly shut down by Live Nation’s C3 Presents in June 2014.