One of the questions I get most often these days goes something like this: “What’s wrong with music festivals? Why are so many of them dying? What’s with all the cancellations? And why are so many going on a so-called hiatus?”
You have a right to be concerned. This list of casualties is long.
- Field Trip (Toronto): On hiatus
- Rifflandia (Victora): On hiatus
- Skookum (Vancouver): On hiatus
- Pemberton (BC): Bankrupt
- Roxodus (Ontario): Canceled
- Woodstock 50 (NY state): Canceled
- WayHome (Ontario): In limbo
- RiotFest (Toronto): Never coming back.
- Virgin MusicFest (Toronto): Ditto
- Plus a ton of others.
What’s going wrong? Brad Wheeler of the Globe and Mail takes a look.
“If you build it, they will come. But what if they don’t?
“With the cancellation of the Roxodus Music Fest in Edenvale, Ont., last month, the extended hiatus of the WayHome Music & Arts Festival north of Toronto and the recent collapse of Michael Lang’s Woodstock 50 reboot in upstate New York, the hard realities of the modern multiday, campsite-and-concert affairs are being laid bare.
“It wasn’t long ago when major music festivals were popping up here, there and in every milk-cow pasture. But the boom has gone bust, and the vision of peace, music and port-o-potty paradise is going down the drain.
“[It’s a brutal business,’ says Stan Dunford, president and co-founder of the Toronto-based live-entertainment company Republic Live. ‘The costs are staggering, the profit margins are low and there are so many variables.'”