Australia Today

Only Half of Australian Music Festivals Are Profitable

A new report from Creative Australia found 56% of music festivals in 2022-2023 made a profit, and young people are attending less.
Splendour in the Grass 2024 was cancelled due to low ticket sales. Photo by Matt Jelonek/Getty Images.

More than a third of Australian music festivals are running at a loss and just over half are profitable, according to a new comprehensive report by Creative Australia.

The first report of its kind, Soundcheck: Insights into Australia’s music festival sector published on Tuesday provides a snapshot of the industry and examines the cultural and financial factors changing its landscape, including the effects of COVID-19, extreme weather, regulatory changes and rising operational costs.


The report looked at the 535 music festivals that were held across Australia in the 2022-23 financial year and found 56 per cent made a profit, 35 per cent lost money and 8 per cent broke even.

The median cost of running a music festival in 2022-23 was $3.3 million. Obviously, festivals vary hugely in size and commerciality so those who profited took in anywhere from the highest of $47.4 million to the lowest of $20,000.

It also found while ticket sales were up slightly on the year before the pandemic, 18 to 24-year-olds were purchasing tickets at lower rates. They made up 41 per cent of all ticket purchases in 2018-19 but just 27 per cent in 2022-23.

Attendees were also increasingly holding off to buy tickets later, a trend that has been creeping into Australian culture in recent years thanks to the advent of ticket resale platforms like Tixel and the increasingly frequent cancellation of events due to lockdowns and extreme weather.

The release of this timely data comes days after Tasmania’s Mona Foma announced its 2024 festival held in February would be its last after 16 years due to poor attendance, and two weeks after Australia’s biggest music festival, Splendour in the Grass in Byron Bay, abruptly cancelled its 2024 festival slated for July due to poor ticket sales immediately after its line-up announcement.


Other major festivals have also crumbled in recent years. Falls Festival has also been cancelled in 2019 due to fire risk, 2020 and 2021 due to lockdowns and in 2023 due to council orders it leave town after local resident noise complaints. Groovin’ the Moo was cancelled in 2024 due to slumping ticket sales and Dark Mofo, Tasmania’s winter arts festival, was postponed in 2024. 

In Victoria, independent festivals Boogie, Inner Varnika and Hopkins Creek were all also cancelled for good in the last three years.

The report found the barriers to running a music festival in Australia were growing.

The most significant hurdle was rising operational costs (47 per cent of festivals say this has a severe or major impact on their festival), followed by lack of government funding (39 per cent), insurance policy restrictions (31 per cent) and extreme weather events (22 per cent).

Festival organisers also cited complex regulations at the federal, state and territory and local government levels, such as police and security requirements, as an advancing challenge.

Rising costs also impact bookers’ scope and lineups. The report found four out of five festival acts in 2022-23 were Australian.

Music festivals in Australia, from the larger-than-life to the niche, community nirvanas, have long been one of the most unique and exciting parts of our relatively tiny live music industry.

The report listed their benefits to supporting local tourism, creating a sense of community, creating employment opportunities for locals and people within the music industry and giving artists exposure to new and larger audiences.


But as operational costs skyrocket and the high cost of living prices punters out, the once-manageable issues like dealing with regulations, might be the final straw for some, and add in extreme weather risks, insurers not giving out cancellation policies, and changing ticket purchasing culture and we have an industry crisis.

Creative Australia Executive Director of Strategic Development and Partnerships Georgie McClean said until now, the size, scale and impact of the industry has not been well documented or understood, despite millions of Australians attending festivals every year.

“Music brings us together,” she said.

“We hope this report will serve as a useful tool for festival organisers and help us to better understand the role and contribution of festivals within the broader creative industries as they face multiple challenges.”

Aleksandra Bliszczyk is the Deputy Editor of VICE Australia. Follow her on Instagram.

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