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Home Homepage Slider Industry weighs in on Big Day Out cancellation

As reported yesterday and this morning, Big Day Out won’t be going ahead next year after the festival’s Texas-based owner C3 Presents confirmed the news.

While both BDO’s Director AJ Maddah and CEO Adam Zammit remained tight-lipped overnight, it has been confirmed that Maddah will announce details on triple j show Hack at 5:30pm.

We asked a number of industry insiders what their thoughts were on the news after Big Day Out’s monumental 22-year run.


Michael Gudinski AM
Mushroom Group

Big Day Out has been the most amazing festival and a leading festival for many years and I’m sure the festival will come back in some form further down the line. Perhaps it was time for a change. C3 are one of the greatest operators around the world and I’m sure that they’ll come up with a new strategy.

I think you’ve got to keep in touch with your audience and keep moving ahead; I can’t say who but we’ve already got a major headliner locked in for Future [Music Festival]. I think EDM is becoming increasingly popular; it was a tough year for festivals in general last year and we’re pretty confident that Future will be bigger and better next year.

Perhaps there’s been too many festivals and a bit too much choice but in the past there’s been different festivals that have been rested and have come back in different incarnations so from an event point of view the Big day Out has been a massive success and it’s been sad to see it decline over the last couple of years.


Rob Potts
CEO and Managing Director, Rob Potts Entertainment Edge

It is sad to see one of our biggest and most successful festivals in trouble. BDO has been an institution on the live music landscape for over two decades and provided a massive vehicle for breaking local and international bands and artists in this market. Hopefully they can come back in 2016 and resurrect the event. The festival is a huge international Australian music event and it would be great for everyone to see it revived.


Stephen Green
Director, SGC Media

I think it’s a real shame to see an institution like Big Day Out having to deal with the issues that it is. I think there’s a fundamental shift in the industry where “headline” acts are not being created in the same magnitude they used to be, largely thanks to the issues and culture change in the recording side of the business and those ramifications are now starting to be felt by other sectors. At the end of the day though, Big Day Out is an iconic brand that is part of the very few pieces the industry has that draws mainstream audiences into alternative music and culture and to lose that would be a real blow. I hope it really is a hiatus rather than the end of an era.


Tim Daley
Group Program Manager, CMC, Foxtel

While I haven’t been to a Big Day Out for many years, I have very fond memories of several.  I remember Silverchair playing a way-too-small stage near the skateboard ramp in 1995, and the crowd growing so large it spilled into nearby stalls.  My first official duties when I started at Foxtel music channels was shooting Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Happyland on a side stage for Channel [V].  Hole’s performance that year was memorable.

It became clear to me over the past few years the BDO was in trouble when friends in their 40s and 50s were talking about how good the line ups were.  Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden were vital bands in the 90s, but much of the recent line ups have been your parent’s favourite bands. Current rock bands just don’t have the star power and generate the passion at the same level they did 20 years ago, and BDO hasn’t kept up with the youths.  I still look at my first BDO in ’95 as the killer line up.  Just about every act was on fire at the time.

Increased competition from other festivals has probably contributed to the decline as well as the more finely targeted nature of Soundwave and Future Music. It’s sad to see the BDO go, but then again I haven’t been since 2001. Kids born that year will start finding the festivals that meet their needs right about now.


Leigh Gruppetta
Co-head, Cooking Vinyl

Big Day Out has been a cornerstone of my musical upbringing, so the cancellation of next year’s event leaves me heavyhearted as a fan. That said, C3 produce brilliant festivals in the US so I’m confident and hopeful they can successfully revive the brand and return BDO to the fans in the near future.


Patrick Donovan
CEO Music Victoria

I think it is sad news for the local industry as the Big Day Out always supported local talent more than other large festivals, and it was a great opportunity for young music fans to discover local bands. But I suppose the young subcultures nowadays are more interested in spending the day with their own with a more focused music line-up, while the Gen X-ers are opting for the more laid back vibe, BYO booze and lack of advertising at boutique festivals such as Meredith and Boogie.

In Melbourne, it was the beginning of the end when the development of the Showgrounds forced the festival into a big dusty car park.

Personally I’ve had some of the best moments of my life at the Big Day Out – Ministry, Rage Against the Machine, Joe Strummer, the Stooges and Neil Young stand out as highlights – and it was a right of passage for me and my friends when we were in our 20′s. The Big Day Out organisers were trailblazers for festivals in this country and I thank all of the organisers for those memorable moments. Let’s hope they can return refreshed with some good contemporary ideas, and cheaper, colder beer!


Nathan McLay
Founder, Future Classic

Its a shame to lose such an historically iconic event on the annual calendar. I guess it punctuates how things in music change and nothing lasts forever.


Kirsty Brown
Executive Officer, Music NSW

I remember that in 1998, the BDO also took a break for a year, and it returned in 1999 bigger and stronger than ever. I think in any challenging touring/festival climate (not to mention, economy), it makes sense for the organisers to stop and evaluate their place in the market- to learn from the issues they’ve faced and to evaluate what their audience wants to see from the festival every year.

Personally, I’m saddened that many young people across Australia will not get to experience the Big Day Out next year, but I’m optimistic that the BDO will return in a much better position to retain its reputation as the biggest and best touring festival in the country.


Darryl Bailey
Head of National Radio, EMI Music Australia

I hope that we get to a point that the Big Day Out returns. It has a great history and played a big part in shaping popular music culture for the last 20 years. We’ve been spoiled for choice for the last decade with so many festivals but it would be a shame not to have the BIG national festival featuring all genres of music to start our year. It’s a vital cog in the wheel of Australian music as well. Something that was missing over the last couple of years. To see bands over the years  like Silverchair, Something For Kate, Regurgitator, Grinspoon, The Living End and 360 take to the main stage in front of 50,000 people, I hope we can get to that point again.

3 replies to this post
  1. Amazing how many people bemoaning the Big Day Out hiatus start their eulogy with a variation of the sentence ‘I may not have attended the BDO myself over the last few years but’…

  2. BDO were innovators in supporting local acts from the small pubs, clubs theaters onto huge Festival stages. Bands could evolve in performance experience entertaining the tens of thousands not the tens or hundreds. This helped stagecraft and the business end of the industry. It was a money maker for all the service industries, staging, PA, Lights, Transport, a huge employer of Australians. Once Viv left and Ken lost track and focus, with outsiders being sold a ‘pup’ by shrewd narcissists, it was game over. Plus competition. A golden Age, a great brand, an innovation that time caught up with.

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