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Englands "Alt-Fest" Aint Gonna Happen

aint happening

aint happening

Music festivals are massive business but they are also hit or miss.  We have seen many just crash and burn due to poor sales or poor management.  This year the buzz was “Alt-Fest” but the organizers have released a massive near manifesto on why its not happening.

You have to love the full disclosure approach on this one and it is very interesting.  The couple explaining in detail the logistical nightmare of a fest and educating us all on how these things can simply fall apart. Looks like Marilyn Manson, The Cult, Gary Numan and more will need to find another gig.  Here are the facts via

“It is with a heavy heart that we must confirm we have had to cancel Alt-Fest.  We tried to put on a ground-breaking event for you & the alternative scene, and it was your support that was helping to make it happen.  From our early days on Kickstarter through to all of you who have purchased tickets we thank you.  We the organisers of Alt-Fest have done everything we can to save it, but this week we ran out of time to raise all the required funds that was needed upfront of the festival.

But this isn’t your usual “Festival is Canceled” notice.  The Alt-Fest organizers shared their problems with ticketholders.

We were doing very well for a first year festival.  We sold over 75 thousand weekend tickets, and as you were aware we had a great lineup with plenty going on.  This however meant we had to pay for over half of all the bands’ fees, with the remainder due just before & at the festival itself.  Securing bands was not the only cost.  The festival was going to cost £1,703,000 ($2,871,459 U.S.) in total to put on, including artists, riders, travel accommodation, production, power, staging, sound, lighting, track way, fencing, water, waste, the venue fee, security, medical assistance, traffic management, health & safety, marketing and much more.  We ourselves and the Alt-Fest team have put in huge amounts of effort and time over the past two years and done everything within our power to make this work.

What went wrong? According to Missy & Dom’s announcement, if they had sold 1,000 more tickets between now and when the festival was to begin, they still would have suffered a “significant loss.”  If they had sold 3,000 tickets they would have broken even. But even if they had reached that point separating profit from loss, there were other barriers to hurdle, other problems to overcome.

We’ve also been contending with a costing error made and ultimately poor advice in the early stages by a company who were supposed to help us work out what the festival would cost to put on.  Coupled with the fact that in order for us to compete against the larger festivals then we had to put in very strong offers to be listened to by the agents & hence secure the talent.  Additionally during the latter planning stages we were forced to move our main arena, through no fault of our own.  This caused many extra costs that further increased the budget upfront of the event.

The organizers also wrote about holding “continuous meetings” and how they spent months seeking investments as they tried to cover the shortfall.  But in the end Missy & Dom had run out of options.

We even looked at how we could make it to the festival and then recover this year’s loss from next year’s sales to get back on track.  Unfortunately, we can’t manage that either because of the way the festival industry and its operators are prone to work.  We would have to pay all the contractors before they even came on site to build the festival – they all want the full fee upfront due to the state of the market.  We also had the remainder of band deposits to make up before and at the event.  We just could not raise all the money needed upfront to continue, nor offset it against any revenue coming after the event – bar, car parking revenues as examples.

But perhaps the last sentences are the saddest.  After listing the different ways ticketholders can obtain refunds, the organizers hammered the very last nail into Alt-Fest’s coffin.

Now that we have had to cancel the festival we need to take steps to place the Company into Liquidation and we want to express our deepest regrets to the artists and to thank all our staff suppliers and contractors who worked so hard with us.  Our deepest & sincerest apologies go out to you.”

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