AUSTRALIAN music festivals are failing because they are too focused on a fickle youth demographic, according to MONA FOMA curator Brian Ritchie.
The Hobart-based Violent Femmes member said the plight of the Australian festival market was down to excessive duplication, and promoters needed to get creative to survive.
In the past week Sydney's Homebake joined the Harvest, Pyramid Rock and Peats Ridge festivals on the Australian music scrapheap, while the iconic Big Day Out has cancelled its second Sydney show for 2014.
Poor ticket sales, rising running costs and market saturation have been blamed for the industry's current state of flux, but Ritchie says promoters need to adapt.
``A lot of the festivals are using similar formulae - people are smart and they can tell when they're being pandered to,'' the 52-year-old said.
``You can no longer just shove a bunch of disorganised names on a poster and expect the fans of those artists to swell to the proportions required to sustain a festival financially or in terms of engagement.
``People want to feel like they're part of the festival, and that means giving them more than just a predicable and safe array of musical junk food.''
Internationally renowned music promoter Michael Chugg, who hails from Launceston, said smaller boutique events would be the future of the industry, as they offered better service and facilities for punters.
``You can see this with festivals like Laneway and the Byron Bay Blues Festival,'' he said.
``You've got easier movement around the site, and quicker service for food and beverages.''
Tasmania has seen its share of failed festivals, with MS Fest, Soundscape and Southern Roots all falling by the wayside in the past five years.
This has been offset by the rise of Hobart's Dark MOFO and MONA FOMA events, as well as the Breath of Life festival in Launceston.
However, a last-minute bail-out from philanthropist Graeme Wood was needed to ensure that the iconic Marion Bay Falls Festival would go ahead in 2013, while Breath of Life was at risk of moving from its traditional site at the Inveresk showgrounds due to a $20,000 funding snub from the Launceston City Council.
Ritchie acknowledged that his MONA events were aided heavily by benefactor David Walsh and the Tasmanian government.
But he said festivals needed to broaden their audience.
``Many festivals are geared towards youth, who are fickle,'' he said.
``People of all ages and demographics need entertainment.
``It's important for the festivals to carve out their own unique identities, regardless of size, and attract the appropriate crowd for their concept.
``Or as we have done with MONA FOMA, develop that crowd from scratch.''
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