The death of the Australian music festival.

Attending a music festival is a complete and utter delight.

There's a solid artist lineup, fun with friends, a bit of debauchery, creative outfits and a shared love for Australia's live music scene

But sadly, and I mean very sadly, there's been a sharp rise in Aussie music festivals being canned or not selling out. 

Today we've heard the news that Splendour in the Grass has been cancelled, just days after tickets went on sale.

The annual music festival, which is held at the North Byron Parklands in NSW, was due to be staged between July 19 and 21. Tickets went on sale on March 21, with Australian pop superstar Kylie Minogue set to headline — now the 2024 festival has been axed completely.

On Wednesday afternoon Splendour in the Grass released a statement. The decision reportedly came down to a lack of ticket sales. 


Also this month, Groovin the Moo — aka one of Australia's longest running festivals — cancelled this year's festival due to "insufficient" ticket sales. It's the first time the festival has been cancelled in its 19-year history, aside from COVID-related restrictions.

The iconic New Year's Eve Falls Festival was canned over summer, and the big hitter Splendour In The Grass failed to sell out in 2023 — the first time since 2011. There are plenty of similar stories out there.

The rise in festival cancellations has the industry feeling tense, and for good reason.

Is going to a festival the most glamourous thing in the world? No. Are the portaloos feral? Usually. 

Regardless of how grotty and sweaty some festivals can be, it's a rite of passage for youth. Now future generations are at risk of no longer experiencing the festival scene at its finest — and there's one overarching reason for all of this.

The reaction following Groovin the Moo's cancellation. Post continues below.

Video via ABC News.

Mitch Wilson is the Managing Director of the Australian Festival Association.

"There's a number of factors, though many of them are money-related," Wilson tells Mamamia about the challenges the festival industry is facing right now.

"There's the increase in supplier costs since the pandemic, the dollar isn't as strong so that makes attracting international artists to come to Australia a lot more difficult, plus travel and staging costs, a lack of investment in the industry and funding — it's a perfect storm of issues.

"The way people consume music now has also changed, a lot of young people preferring to spend their money on a specific concert rather than a festival lineup. Everyone has a lot less to spend, and since everything is costing so much more, ticket prices have increased slightly too, though nothing dramatically."

From the Australian Festival Association's perspective, it's fair to say the Federal Government needs to step up with funding and reinvesting in the arts — especially festivals and live music.

"The Federal Government's The Live Music Australia program grant isn't funded beyond the current financial year, so we're calling on the Federal Government to make sure the budget includes an extension to that program," says Wilson.

State governments have a role to play too, Wilson saying the amount of regulation and exorbitant costs organisers have to go through in the various states and territories is overkill.

With these concerns front of mind, Mamamia reached out to Minister for the Arts Tony Burke to hear what the Federal Government is doing right now to support the live music industry and its workers.


A spokesperson from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts acknowledged the live music industry has experienced "a significant period of disruption" as of late.

"The Australian Government supports the development, growth and innovation of Australian contemporary live music and live music venues. The Live Music Australia program is aimed at increasing performance opportunities for original contemporary music by Australian artists, through live music venues or music festivals depending on the focus of the grant round," the spokesperson said.

They also acknowledged that applications for the most recent round of the program closed recently and are currently under assessment.

"The government is continuing to investigate ways to support the sustainability of contemporary live music venues and music festivals into the future."

Another impact to festivals recently has been the effects of climate change.

Just this week the Pitch Music & Arts Festival in Victoria was cancelled on the advice of Victoria's Country Fire Authority due to extreme fire danger.

And who could forget the Splendour in the Mud drama back in 2022?

At least a whopping 47 festivals have been partially or fully shut down since 2015 as a result of extreme weather, according to Green Music Australia

It's already hard to organise a large scale festival. There are already economic and funding challenges. Add on cost of living, and now the ongoing threat of bushfires and floods — music festival organisers are at their wits' end.


RMIT Associate Professor Catherine Strong is a music industries researcher, and she's also part of the Music Industry Research Collective.

Speaking with Mamamia, she says a lot of festivals are still getting back on their feet after the impacts of COVID.

"People spend years organising and putting together a festival, so to just have the entire thing completely pulled out from under them would be so devastating. Festivals are a space where people can just be absorbed in music for days on end, and have fun — and having fun shouldn't be underestimated as a motivator for people to do things. It's what the music industry is built upon," she notes.

"Having a conversation at a policy level and across the industry about what needs to happen to keep these events in place is crucial. We don't want all the festivals to disappear, and for people to miss out on these opportunities."

As Mitch Wilson notes: "I really don't want young people to lose that opportunity to go to their first music festival — hanging with mates, sometimes camping, discovering new artists and music. I think we all have to be committed to ensuring that's still available for all people in Australia."

Because everyone deserves to get rowdy at a classic Aussie music festival.

This article was originally published on March 14, 2024, and has since been updated with new information?

Feature Image: Canva.