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Is reimagining ticketing the answer to Australia’s festival fiasco?

  • Written by Luke Trickett, Founder of Backpocket

Australia's festival industry, a significant contributor to the National economy, is facing a crisis. Iconic festivals like Splendour in the Grass and Groovin The Moo have joined the growing list of cancelled events in recent months, but we know 80% of young Australians want to attend live music events — so why are so many being cancelled? 

While genre-specific festivals like SouledOut, Ultra and Bluesfest flourish, mainstream events are struggling with escalating costs, higher ticket prices, and dwindling sales. The root of this alarmingly fast-growing problem lies in a fundamental misunderstanding of festival-goers and their purchasing expectations. But the silver lining is: Australia's festival fiasco is surmountable.

Cost-conscious consumers

Unlike niche festivals that cater to specific demographics, mainstream events often attract a younger audience with tighter budgets. The cost-of-living crisis has significantly impacted this group, making them price-sensitive and hesitant to purchase expensive tickets. With 73% of event-goers feeling ticket prices are steeper than ever, affordability has become a significant barrier. And one in five identify ‘value for money’ as an obstacle to attending concerts and festivals.  

To connect with this audience of music lovers, we need to better understand both the barriers that prevent and the motivations that drive their purchasing decisions. For example, the biggest driving factor for young Australians is FOMO, with nearly half of Aussies citing fear of missing out as the core reason for purchasing tickets last year. 

Whether it’s the group parent who doubles as the default ticket purchaser, the maid of honour who buys in bulk out of a sense of duty, or a friend who happens to be on lunch during presale, they all want the same things — to make memories, affordably. Now it's up to ticketing platforms and event organisers to take a customer-centric approach to ticketing. From there, ticket booth success will follow.

Easing financial burdens

The allure of festivals has been overshadowed by financial responsibility. Group bookings are common in these events and pose challenges when one person bears the entire financial burden. Even if the token group parent can rally the troops and get everyone on board, they’re met with an unaffordable bill of +$1,000 at checkout for everyone’s tickets. With 4.9million people having experienced a friend failing to pay back a debt in the last 12 months, this is a checkout deal breaker for most in the current economy.

The recent surge in Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) usage highlights a desperate attempt to address affordability, but it comes with its own set of problems. BNPL options may make tickets more financially accessible, but still leave one person financially responsible for their friends and can exacerbate financial stress.

The unethical nature of BNPL is increasingly obvious in today’s tight economy, evidenced by the jump in late fees from 5% to 20% in the past four years. Instead, ticketing platforms and organisers need to take a patron-friendly approach to ticket sales. Backpocket’s innovative group booking solution tackles these challenges head-on and is currently the only payment method in the world that enables someone to instantly split a group purchase with friends at checkout, easing both social and financial stress.

So is the Australian festival industry failing, or is it evolving? While the industry has been impacted by a myriad of complex issues, what we know for sure is that it’s currently stuck in a stalemate. One of the biggest problems is that young Aussies want to attend with friends but are unable to shoulder group booking costs. To adapt to the evolving needs of consumers and breathe life back into Australia’s once-thriving music scene, affordability and group booking challenges desperately need to be addressed by organisers and ticketing platforms.


Luke Trickett, Founder of Backpocket

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