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Groovin The Moo cancelled - cultural shift, cost of living, or something else entirely?

Rumours began to swirl on Monday, by Wednesday it had been confirmed: Groovin The Moo - one of Australia's biggest regional music festivals - would not be going ahead in 2024.

The post-COVID years have not been kind to many Australian music festivals, with Groovin The Moo (GTM) being the latest event to shut up shop, pointing to low ticket sales amidst a worsening cost of living crisis. GTM has been bringing some of the best home grown and international acts to Australian regional centres since 2005, and had only postponed proceedings twice in 2020 and 2021 as the COVID pandemic wreaked havoc across Australia.

"We are extremely disappointed to announce that Groovin the Moo 2024 tour has been forced to cancel", a statement on the festival's Instagram read.

"Ticket sales have not been sufficient to deliver a regional festival of this kind. All tickets will be refunded automatically."

Source: GTM's official Facebook

Groovin the Moo occupied a unique space in Australia's festival market. The all-ages event served as a first festival experience for many music lovers, whist bringing a large scale live music event to areas that would otherwise have missed out. Over it's 19 years, GTM has visited 12 different regional areas, and while organisers are hopeful of a return in the future, history tells us that 2023 may have been the last edition of the festival ever.

Bewildered fans on GTM's Instagram were quick to point out that tickets only went on sale 8 days before the cancellation - how could they be so sure that their event was gonna bust?

GTM is a festival with a lot of moving parts. The lineup features dozens of acts, both local and international, traversing six states and territories. This means a lot of people need to get paid - think stage riggers, food vendors, bar operators, truck drivers, security, and set up and pack down crews. The list goes on.

Without strong early ticket sales, organisers couldn't be confident that enough cash would be there to honour the many contracts that would have been in place.

So, what's going on with ticket sales?

The broke elephant in the room is, of course, cost of living. You don't need us to tell you that just about everything has become a lot more expensive. This means that operating costs shoot up for events, and ticket prices do the same for cash-strapped punters. For many, heading to events like GTM is far more of a commitment than it was pre-COVID/cozzie.

How people buy tickets has also changed a lot since COVID. A huge chunk of ticket sales are happening in the weeks and days leading up to an event, meaning organisers cannot accurately predict how many people will be rocking up to shows, or how much cash will be hitting their coffers. This trend has been confirmed by many artists, organisers, managers and promoters that have spoken to over the last couple of years.

And what about the model?

Many have pointed to booming boutique festivals like Meredith, Pitch and even Bluesfest to suggest that punters might be losing faith in the traditional Aussie festival format; instead choosing to spend their hard-earned money on immersive experiences that extend well beyond the acts on stage.

Some punters also believe the traditional indie sound festivals like Groovin have are falling out of favour with the 23 and under crew, with them instead preferring EDM music and festivals. Perhaps GTM and others like it are ageing out of the core festival-going age groups.

Like with so many things, the reason GTM 2024 won't be going ahead is likely a combination of factors. And with clouds still hanging over the future of the iconic Falls festival, we could be witnessing the loss of two mainstays of the Australian festival scene in twelve months, along with the dozen or so smaller events that have tanked post-COVID.

It goes without saying that this is not good news for an Australian music scene. Less events equal less opportunity for emerging and established artists alike, who are already battling for limited stages and exposure.

So where you can, get along to a gig or grab some merch from your favourite artists - they need it now more than ever.


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