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End of an Era For Soundwave After 2016 Event Cancelled

After a turbulent week, Soundwave 2016 was cancelled late yesterday “due to poor ticket sales”, according to its founder AJ Maddah.“I am very sorry, I tried my best,” he said.

The decision to pull the plug on next month’s three east coast shows came after a turbulent week of bad vibes from some of the acts, Maddah trying to get Rage Against The Machine to reunite, and Maddah trying to get some fresh funding.
 
Last evening he said, "Thank you to all the fans, bands and people who supported the event for the last 12 years. I wish we could have ended it on a better note.”
 
It was the end of an era for one of the great Australian festivals. Earlier in the week, Maddah had already dropped the bombshell that Soundwave would not continue after 2016. He said he was “over it” (running festivals) as the "hard work, stress & risk" only brought "hate & stupidity".
 
The 2016 bill included Disturbed, The Prodigy, Bring Me the Horizon, Deftones, NOFX and Bullet For My Valentine, and was to run between January 23 to 26.
 
But alarm bells rang through this week. The three venues had not been booked less than a month off. Bring Me The Horizon were antsy because they had not been paid their advance. Neither were NOFX.  L7 cancelled "due to circumstances beyond our control.”
 
Maddah blamed Soundwave’s ticketing agency Eventopia for not going ahead with a promise to give an advance on future ticketing sales. He tweeted that Eventopia’s chief financial officer “changed her mind and decided not make the advance but didn’t tell anyone. So we (SW & bands) waited and waited for $. If they had informed us that scheduled funds were cancelled we could have made other arrangements.”
 
In September, Soundwave’s previous operating company World Stages Pty Ltd had been put in voluntary admission to better organise its past debts.
 
In early December, pro-audio website CX revealed that an audit report from accounting firm Deloitte showed that Soundwave was in a deeper financial mire than thought. CX reported that World Stages owed $25.8 million to 186 creditors. The Australian Taxation Office and Office of State Revenue are owed $6 million as a result of recording artist fees as wages, instead of contractor payments.
 
Over the last 12 years, Soundwave brought to Australian audiences not only superstar acts as Metallica, Green Day, Faith No More, The Offspring, Jane’s Addiction, Incubus, Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, Soundgarden, and Nine Inch Nails but also introduced emerging acts from the US and Europe as Every Time I Die, As I Lay Dying, City And Colour and Funeral For A Friend. Some of these as a result returned for their own tours and built up wider followings as a result.
 
At its peak, in 2013, the awesome bill headlined by Metallica, Linkin Park and Blink 182 reached almost 250,000 fans over five cities and grossed $63 million. It overtook Big Day Out, until then invincible in its drawing power. Maddah would later buy a stake in Big Day Out after founder Ken West sold his remaining share, left after he sold part of it to America’s C3 Presents.
 
Both Soundwave and Big Day Out became victims of Australian festival go-ers moving from travelling large scale festivals to smaller events that provided a wider range of experiences. In recent years, Maddah dropped Adelaide and Perth from the schedule. The falling Australian dollar meant it was harder to pay overseas acts in US dollars. New Zealand’s promoters are facing the same problem, causing the recent cancellations of Soulfest and the inaugural Echo.

For more industry news visit Christie Eliezer's Industrial Strength column.