The Stone Music Festival (SMF) will be back in 2014. So what lessons have the organisers learned or not learned from the inaugural festival.
1 – The month of April for an outdoor festival is the wrong month. The organisers have put some PR spin on this by using ANZAC DAY. The festival website states that the point of the Stone Festival was to be “a timely reminder of our fallen veterans in the lead up to ANZAC Day, create a brand new Aussie ANZAC tradition”. Seriously, what a load of BS. The Stone Music Festival was created to make money. Nothing else. It wasn’t created to honour Anzac Day or the fallen veterans. If it was, it would have mentioned that from the outset, not after the festival was run. Shame SMF on using the Anzac legend in your PR rubbish. LESSON = NOT LEARNED.
2 – The festival will drop the “Stone Music Festival” brand name. For those in Australia, we know that the Stone movie is about bikies and bikie culture. The association with this movie and the bikie culture became a PR nightmare. The Sydney Bikie Wars is all over the news with shootings happening at least once a week. Fans believed that motorcycle gangs would be in attendance at the festival. The organisers realised this could be a problem. So the PR machine kicked in again, stating that any bikies in club colours will not be allowed into the venue. It was all too late. Ticket sales stalled. LESSON = LEARNED
3 – It has mentioned Muse, Kings Of Leon, Pearl Jam and The Eagles as possible contenders for next year.
The Eagles did big business in Australia on the stadium circuit, when they toured here in 2010. They haven’t released anything worthwhile, solely relying on their legacy.
Kings of Leon did big business on the Arena circuit when they toured in Australia in 2011 and are in the process of releasing their new album. If that album tanks, I am sure the organisers would book them, as they booked Van Halen and Aerosmith.
Pearl Jam played stadiums in Australia when they toured here last in 2009. This band is a dark horse, as they have that Grateful Dead cult following. The band members are connected to social media, they bootleg their own shows and release them to the fans and they are still churning out music. Personally I liked Pearl Jam on the first four albums. Backspacer wasn’t a bad album, but it wasn’t good either.
Muse on the other hand played the Big Day Out festival in 2010 when they toured Australia, so they are experienced at the Australian festival scene. They then totally ignored Australia on the recent 2nd Law tour. Maybe that is a good thing, since that album was terrible. To me, Muse is a downward spiral. They have had their heyday.
The organisers are looking at the past. They are not looking at the now. LESSON = NOT LEARNED
Here are some current international bands that are doing big business; Kid Rock, Stone Sour, Shinedown, Killswitch Engage, Black Veil Brides, Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, Volbeat, Bullet For My Valentine, Coheed and Cambria, Imagine Dragons, Paramore, Papa Roach and Thirty Seconds To Mars.
4. Drugs is a big problem in Australia, so when you have a person involved in the festival that did time for drugs and the name of the festival is referencing a bikie movie, where the bikie gangs of today are the biggest movers of drugs, you will be scaring off a lot of people. LESSON = NOT LEARNED
5. Treating older fans like teenagers. Fans of music are not just 18 – 25 year olds as most organisers believe. Most of the money spent in the music business is by older fans. These fans don’t deserve to be standing for 10 hours in the rain or the sun to watch an act that they supported and grew up with. Organisers of any festival need to take this into consideration. When you have headlining bands like Van Halen and Billy Joel, you need to accept that an older fan base will be present. Show them some respect. LESSON = NOT LEARNED
6. Have a Plan B. There is no reason why these shows couldn’t move into the Allphones Arena. The second stage could have been set up in one of the foyer areas of the Allphones Arena. There was no vision, no contingency. LESSON = NOT LEARNED
7. The Supergroup Cover/Tribute band is here to stay.
Seriously, Kings Of Chaos stole the show at the venue. I remember back in time, where a certain “supergroup” in Australia was formed called The Party Boys and what fun they had as well, playing cover songs from other bands as well as songs from there solo careers/previous bands. .
8. Van Halen in the past did big numbers and so did Billy Joel. In America, those two artists still did big business last year. Of the 25,000 tickets that where on sale at the SMF for Day 1 – Van Halen, under 50% got sold. Of the 25,000 tickets on sale for Day 2 – Billy Joel, under 45% got sold. So why didn’t they do big business in Australia this time around.
Three things at play here;
1. Blame the month. As I have mentioned in the previous posts, April is the worst month to hold an outdoor festival in Australia.
2. Both artists haven’t released anything worthwhile recently. EVH is my guitar idol. When I was learning how to play in the 1980’s EVH and RR formed by body of knowledge. I even paid top dollar to get recorded cassette tapes of their demos to be sent to me. Imagine my shock when I purchased A Different Kind of Truth, and hear those demo songs on it. What a load of rubbish? I really liked the songs they did with DLR on the Greatest Hits packages, so why they couldn’t go forward in that direction is beyond me.
3. The lack of decent Australian talent. Jimmy Barnes and Noiseworks are finished. The Living End need to release something worthwhile again or they will be doing the nostalgia circuit as well. Australian fans like Australian talent, however it looks like everyone is pushing/shoving international rubbish acts past their due by date down our throats. The organisers need to be out scouting for talent. De La Cruz from Brisbane, has a recording deal in Europe with Frontier Records. They play hard rock music. Demolition Diva rocked it up at the Motley Crue and Kiss concert. Birds of Tokyo are relevant. My favourite Australian act is COG. They never got the recognition they deserved. Second placed is Karnivool and then The Butterfly Effect. These bands all have cult fan bases. And yes, I do know that COG is on hiatus or have split up, depending on what story you believe.
9. The one venue idea is ridiculous in Australia. To fly to Perth from Sydney is a four to five hour flight. Tickets return are normally $500. Talking about treating fans like dirt. Fans need to purchase a ticket to the show at $200 minimum, then book flights at $500 return. Most will end up staying the night, so then they need to book accommodation at $200 a night. $900 is a lot of money, and imagine if they are coming with a partner or their teenage kids.
The reason why Soundwave and the Big Day Out work in Australia as summer festivals is that it moves from City To City. To be honest, those two festivals have the January and February months booked down. So that leaves November, December and March for this festival. December is all about Christmas, so you can count out that month. So that leaves October, November and March. March is when Uni students return to school in most countries, October and November is the end of school exams, so already, the festival has an uphill battle to secure a suitable month. Remember Soundwave Revolution from a few years ago. They tried it in September, and it didn’t even start. It was cancelled. That was another one venue idea as well. If you are going to do ONE VENUE – do it in MELBOURNE. The Melbourne-ites go to everything. It is a different scene and culture there. LESSON = NOT LEARNED