Music Festivals: A ripper time or a rip-off?

Spilt Milk Festival

The country has been buzzing since the Splendour in the Grass line-up was unveiled last Wednesday, with tickets selling out in less than half an hour this morning.

Those attending forked out over $500 each, just for entry and accommodation, with bank accounts expected to shrink by thousands by the end of the three-day festival once outfits, camping gear, food and drinks are factored in.

Hard-core festival lover, 21-year-old Millie Harris, is already adding this year’s Splendour in the Grass to her repertoire of more than 10 festivals after she successfully snatched up tickets in the presale on Tuesday.

“I’ve been to Splendour twice before … everything about it is amazing,” she says.

Festival-goers at Lost Paradise

“It’s just like a big party … I love dressing up and just having a fun day with my friends.”

According to a report by Live Performance Australia, while Aussies are now paying less for regular concert tickets, with the average price dropping by 22.8 per cent since 2013, they are spending more on festival passes, which have become 6.7 per cent more expensive in the past two years.

Live entertainment is a booming industry in Australia, generating a hefty $1.4 billion in revenue in the past financial year, and attracting over 18 million people, which is more than the combined attendances at AFL, NRL, Soccer, Super Rugby, Cricket and the NBL.

Hatch surveyed 50 festival-goers to find out if they thought they were getting value for money.

While almost 80 per cent of people said the line-up would determine whether or not they went to a festival. Over half of them stated cost as the main factor that would stop them going to a festival.

Half of those surveyed also stated they wouldn’t be happy spending more than $400 in total to go to a festival, with only a quarter of people stating they would be happy to spend over $600, and even less would be impressed spending over $800.

However, when asked what they thought about the price of festivals, 54 per cent said they believed it was reasonable.

For Millie, while she does hesitate at times to fork out hundreds of dollars for a ticket, she always finds herself doing it anyway.

“I think I spend more on festivals than I’d like to admit to myself,” she says.

“But even when I know it’s a ridiculous price for only a few days, I think it’s worth it for how much fun I have.”

But it’s not so much the ticket price she has a problem with, rather the additional costs that come with it.

“I find the prices of alcohol and food inside the venue ridiculous and that’s what makes my day more expensive,” she says.

For 21-year-old James Woods, who was a festival novice until he attended Spilt Milk in Canberra last year, the price for the one-day festival was worth it, but he warns that people need to be prepared to double the price of their ticket before committing to a festival.

“You get to enjoy a variety of acts from different genres and most of the time you get to see a bunch of your favourite artists at once rather than spending the same price just to see one,” he says.

Festival goers heading to Spilt Milk in Canberra

“I was able to immerse myself in songs I’d never heard before so I went home with a stack of new artists to listen to.”

Over a quarter of those surveyed felt they had been ripped off by a festival, with the majority highlighting the price of food and drinks, and the quality of service and amenities as their main complaints.

James was disappointed about this during his experience at Spilt Milk, after being forced to pay over $5 for a bottle of water, which had to last him all day as organisers failed to order enough stock.

“To spend that much money to get in and then to have a lack of resources to keep me going was annoying,” he says.

And it seems they’re not the only ones, with recent statistics suggesting many may be boycotting festivals.

Overall, music festivals have copped a 25.2 per cent decline in ticket sales revenue in 2016 compared to the year before, and 38.2 per cent lower than its peak in 2014. Festivals in the category of Splendour in the Grass and Groovin’ the Moo were also hit with a 48.2 per cent decrease in attendances in 2016 compared to 2015.

While this may be attributed to the cancellation of a number of major festivals within the past few years, namely Future Music Festival, Stereosonic and Soundwave, it is likely other factors, such as price inflation and recent scandals and scams throughout the industry, may also be to blame.

Perhaps it’s these statistics that sent the organisers of Wanderlust running following last year’s Sunshine Coast festival, leaving many businesses, performers and attendees thousands of dollars out of pocket.

For those who were left empty handed today, in a bid to eliminate ticket scalping, Splendour in the Grass is offering a legitimate way for people to offload their unwanted tickets through their official resale, which will open at 9am on Monday,  May 14. – Tayla O’Brien

About Tayla O'Brien 15 Articles
Upcoming journalist hoping to make a difference in the world. Follow me on twitter @taylaobrien13.