Walking through a crowd of sweaty bodies, the sun’s heat blazes past the lone cloud, teasing with a shade that never comes. As you scan the crowd, glittery bikini tops paired with chunky boots mingle with a variety of three-piece fruit shorts, button-ups, and bucket hats from Jay-Jays. To the untrained eye, this might resemble a beach scene. But as you lift your gaze from the slightly dusty, discoloured grass to the main stage, it becomes unmistakably clear: this is an Australian music festival.

Such scenes, though, are increasingly at risk as major festivals such as Splendour in the Grass and Groovin the Moo, among other smaller festivals, are cancelled.



Above: Data published by Creative Australia’s show that there has been a drop of around 6000 Australian musicians in the last six years.


Guitarist for Sydney-based bad Oniera, Ky Farquhar said he believes the industry is in “peril”.

Farquhar says he has noticed a shift in which festivals are succeeding: he feels that single-genre festivals are attracting more consistent audiences.

“There’s an overall demographic shift in line-ups,” he said.

“What I think we are seeing more of in the current day is the success of single genre or niche-specific festivals.”

One such festival is the Tamworth Country Music Festival. This event is held over 10 days and brings in hundreds of thousands of country music fans and gives aspiring country artists a stage. Country musician Keith Urban told the ABC that Tamworth Country Music Festival is “where it all began” for him.

Niche festivals like this are held all across Australia with New South Wales and Victoria hosting the equal largest amount.



Above: Data from Creative Australia shows the approximate percentage of where music festivals are held across the country.

Musician James Schubert, drummer for ‘Scatter Light’ and ‘Almost Toast’, said he was feeling the effects of festival cancellations and believes it's having a "huge impact" on the Australian music scene.

"Festivals are the best way for established bands to share their audience with up-and-coming bands or artists," he said.

"It helps those bands connect to an audience that might not otherwise go out of their way to see a stand-alone show."


In April 2024, Creative Australia published a report based on a survey of Australian festival culture. The report provides an overview of the industry's current condition.

A significant issue highlighted is the insufficient profits earned by festival hosts.

During the 2022-2023 financial year, 535 festivals took place across Australia, with four out of five acts at these festivals being Australian performers.

These festivals cost on average around $3.9 million to host and while 56 per cent of these festivals reported a profit to Creative Australia, the rest had an average deficit of $470,000.

This is also impacted by the rising cost of living, the cost of operations is going up.

In the 2024-2025 federal budget Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced ‘Revive Live,’ an $8.6 million program aimed at supporting and investing in the Australian music industry.

This is in the midst of an ongoing parliamentary inquiry titled ‘Inquiry into the challenges and opportunities within the Australian music industry.’

Submissions towards this closed on April 30 2024 with the hearing being held on Wednesday, June 5 2024.


James Schubert says that it’s the "big corporations mainly Triple J’ that ‘gate-keep and decide what gets shown’ to a wider audience.

"I think that what people are listening to has definitely changed over the last 10 years, especially in the indie rock scene," he said,

"Triple J still pushes indie rock, but I think people's listening taste has changed since its peak in the 2010s, but Triple J keeps pushing it."



Above: The History of Australian music is long.

The way that music has been shared has changed over time, the transition from vinyl to CD usage to digitised media has changed what is popular and how accessible the medium is.

Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) released their annual sales revenue report on digital and Physical music. Physical refers to CDs, Vinyls, and DVDs, digital refers to streaming, downloads, etc. This report does not account for burning or second-hand recording.

Creative Australia found that of the 584,689 total reported music sales in 2023, 57,511 of those were physical copies.

This is approximately 2000 more physical sales than the previous year. Of these physical sales, 70 per cent are vinyl records.

Collector of rare Australian CDs and Vinyls of over 40 years, David Charles Abbott says that he separates the popularity of the artist from his love of collecting.

"I think that there is a quite large transition back to vinyl records and I think there will be a transition back to CDs in the next decade or so," Mr Abbott said.

Mr Schubert believes that the impact of large corporations failing to adapt to the changing tastes of listeners is impacting the sales of festival tickets.

"The large corporations in charge of what becomes popular and what doesn’t aren’t pushing what people want to listen to," he said.

Festival ticket sales, as stated by Creative Australia, are still below pre-COVID-19 numbers. There is an ongoing trend of buying tickets closer to the event. Ky Farquhar from the band Oniera has noticed venues have become more "cautious" about holding events.

"Live music venues in general are a lot more cautious with shows that won’t sell many pre-sales," Mr Farquhar said,

"They don’t see the trend to buy the week off and end up scrapping a lot of shows."

Creative Australia stated that 29 per cent of surveyed festival organisers stated that promoting the Australian music industry is a main motivator for hosting these events. Mr Schubert says that without live performances, the capacity for a band to find true fans is limited.

"Without festivals to share the experience of a live show, the capacity for a band to gain true fans is severally limited."