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Splendour & Falls Now In The Hands Of U.S Company: Good Or Bad?

(C) Tom Sue Yek

Two of Australia’s favourite music festivals, as well as one of Australia’s best PR and management rosters, has been bought by American live music juggernaut Live Nation.

The brains behind Splendour In The Grass, Falls Festival, and a stack of smaller events and artist services Secret Sounds have sold a 51 per cent controlling stake in their company to the biggest concert promoter and ticketing agent in the United States.

Secret Sounds is also involved in the operations of Southbound, Listen Out, Field Day, Harbourlife, UNIFY, and one of Brisbane’s best venues The Triffid. While Live Nation will have their hands in a heap of Secret Sound’s dealings Down Under, the Aussie conglomerate’s record labels Dew Process and Create Control are excluded from the deal.

“The Aussie instalment of Download Festival, one of the world’s best heavy music events, now also looks to be inevitable as Live Nation as one of the major promoters of the event.”

Splendour and Falls are now Live Nation’s flagship events in Australia, and are the latest additions to company’s impressive 80-strong international festivals portfolio which includes Lollapalooza, Reading & Leeds, and the still M.I.A local festival Big Day Out.

Annnnd that’s the part that’s making us worry. Considering our national festival circuit seems to just be back looking solid after a tumultuous few years, which saw the downfall of Big Day Out, Soundwave, and Future Music Festival among countless boutique and smaller festivals, is it really a good move to allow an overseas industry giant to tinker with two festivals that sell-out year after year?

With an injection of money, contacts, and resources that’s always part of a massive company’s arsenal, Splendour In The Grass could become a four-day festival, and feature even more top-tier international headliners (Hey Radiohead, #SITG2017 pls?). Falls Festival may also become just as big as its sister event, and some extra cash on hand may mean every festival site could have waterparks to keep the Aussie summer at bay.

The highly anticipated announcement of the Australian instalment of Download Festival, one of the world’s best heavy music events, now also looks to be inevitable as Live Nation is one of the major promoters of the event.

BUT a titan of the industry could also accidentally ruin the magic of the Aussie portfolio it has just purchased. Some would agree Splendour is on the edge of being too big (the P.A-to-punters ratio at #SITG2016 was woeful), and making it even bigger such as a four-day event or simply more stages could turn some away from the winter festival.

“We look forward to partnering with them to find new ways to grow our live event footprint across Australia.” [Live Nation]

Similarly, the magic of Falls is a killer lineup to bring in the new year with a bang without the crowd size/the amount of d*ckheads as Splendour. If Falls undergoes changes, some of its loyal crowd base may just choose to bring in the new year at one of the many other summer festivals.

With a portfolio boasting the biggest international festivals, it could also mean smaller and emerging Aussie acts may not be given as much of a leg-up by Splendour and Falls. Splendour after all did start as a way for Secret Sounds and their friends to get their rosters on a festival bill in a time when Big Day Out and others focussed on bringing over big international names. Let’s hope the new owners of Secret Sounds do right by their local roster of artists, PR, and management teams…

Secret Sounds co-founders Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco, in a statement, said the deal with Live Nation is a great outcome for Falls Festival and Splendour In The Grass.

“We started Secret Sounds with the sole mission of introducing Australians to the best artists, events and music possible, and Live Nation is the perfect partner to help us take this goal to the next level.

“With their support we can continue to curate the lineups that fans love, while also experimenting with new exciting ways for fans to experience live music,” read the statement.

Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino said the company’s excited to be part of two iconic Australian festivals.

“Jess and Paul have created events that attract the biggest artists in the world but still feel uniquely Australian. We look forward to partnering with them to find new ways to grow our live event footprint across Australia,” said Rapino.

It seems everyone’s pretty happy with Live Nation’s acquisition. It’s now a waiting game to see if Australia’s premiere music industry group and its local portfolio will continue to prosper backed by one of the world’s biggest live music companies.

Photos by Tom Sue Yek