The travelling hard rock/metal festival Soundwave starts in Brisbane on Saturday, with organisers bracing themselves for a much smaller profit after last year's Metallica-driven success.
Promoter AJ Maddah today confirmed to Fairfax Media that ticket sales in Brisbane, Sydney (Sunday), Melbourne (February 28), Adelaide (March 1) and Perth (March 2) currently total 150,000. But he denied that, to break even, Soundwave needed to sell quite as many as 170,000, as other sources have claimed.
"Soundwave will make a modest profit this year," Maddah insisted.
Last year it was the country's most successful festival with 250,000 tickets sold, thanks in no small part to "an amazing line-up including Metallica ... a $10 million band," Maddah said. "It was always going to be difficult after last year being so big."
This year, Soundwave has been beset with problems ever since American metal group Sevendust announced they were withdrawing from the event in early January. Since then Desaparecidos, Hardcore Superstar, Megadeth, Stone Temple Pilots, Whitechapel and, as recently as Wednesday, Newsted have also left the bill.
Sources have told Fairfax Media that fees for all talent booked for the festival, including these acts, total $16 million.
There were further issues last week when set times were revealed, showing clashes between several popular acts. After negative feedback on social media – and an acknowledgement from Maddah himself that some of the clashes were "unacceptable" – the schedule has since been revised.
Fans will now be able to see both Gwar and Rob Zombie, and both Black Veil Brides and Suicide Silence, while Stage 3 headliners Avenged Sevenfold will have an extra 15 minutes added to their hour-long set.
Maddah has had a horror six months, starting with the cancellation of his boutique festival Harvest in September, continuing with huge financial losses due to poor attendance at Big Day Out festivals in January and early February, and now this weekend's struggling event. He has already said that Soundwave will not take place in Perth next year.
Ironically the promoter will present a "mini keynote" speech entitled Soundwave: An Inside Look Into the Biggest Rock Festival in Australia at the inaugural Global Rock Summit, which takes place in Hollywood, California, on April 4 and 5.
– with Chris Johnston