Part of Apr 2011 by
Monolith Music Festival

Monolith Music Festival 09. Photo: Stu Kennedy

Why Some Music Festivals are Fading Faster Than Justin Bieber’s Teen Idol Status

Live music has always been the golden rock n roll goose laying some very profitable eggs, but in the last couple years of “economic suck” (technical term) there have been many casualties in the music festival world especially in the one-off or fly-in category. The reasons for all these failed music festivals, besides the economy, range everywhere from bloated ego trips, incompetence, thievery, bad booking choices, risky bets, and very poor management in general. So basically everything the music industry has always done, its just that the money has dried up to the point that its creating real world multimillion dollar failures.

The Mile High Music Festival was the poster child of ego bloat and its nick name was “The Rich Mans Festival,” because the cheapest tickets you could buy were a hundred bucks and $425 was the top for 2 day VIP. For that kind of money they should give you a years supply of corn dogs or something. MHM was also a great example of a “fly-in” situation because the event didnt coincide with many of the artists tours (0ver 40 bands total). So say for an example on top of Dave Matthews enormous guarantee, Im betting they had to spring for a hefty travel expense and penthouse suite. Of course I could be wrong about the cost of acquiring the Mr. Mathews experience, but regardless of the ingredients in the fail pudding heres how it all cooked out on March 1st on the MHM Facebook: “Mile High Music Festival: Today we announce Mile High Music Festival will not happen in 2011.” I actually clicked the like button on this.

“When trust funds run out! News at eleven.” The Monolith Festival, while far from being my favorite event in the world, should still be going on today. It really should. The Indie Hipster event itself ran like clock work and Im sure it was a complete logistical nightmare to put together but it didnt have to be at Red Rocks. Red Rocks is one of the most expensive venues to rent in the country. Its freakin Red Rocks. The Monolith Festival could have been held in a field, or take a hint from Kevin Lyman who holds the Warped Tour in the parking lot of Mile High Stadium. Here is an interview with one of the Monolith founders, in which he begs for a quarter million and in the same breath says it has to be held at Red Rocks: Got any spare change?.   Fields and parking lots are cheap being Under a Blood Red Sky isnt.

These are actually just a couple of Colorado examples if you Google “Failed music festivals” your first few hits are 1) A guy who piled up 1.8 million of festival debt in Daytona Beach, 2) Some dude who was just indicted for fraud for a festival in Houston, and 3) “Public anger as failed music festival boss refurbishes pub”.  On the flip, there are festivals that are so ingrained in the industry and local culture that they can never fail like South by Southwest and Voodoo Fest. Knock on wood.

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