More Canceled Music Festivals: Is the Scene Dying?

Apr 08, 2024

DJ Flume performing at the Firefly Festival in 2017

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The music festival industry has suffered significant setbacks, with many events being canceled due to various circumstances. As shows lose momentum, you might wonder about the potential decline of the culture that was once well-loved by many. Discover why organizers are postponing highly anticipated events and check out all the canceled music festivals so far in 2024.

Why Are Music Festivals Being Canceled?

With the world resuming its public activities after being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the live music industry is now at its peak. Millions of fans are lining up to purchase concert tickets to see their favorite performers. According to Live Nation Entertainment, attendance soared to 145 million in 2023, compared to 2021’s 35 million and 2019’s 98 million. Ticket sales from the top 100 tours worldwide generated $9.17 billion in revenue. 

However, despite the rising popularity of live music, organizers are canceling music festivals. Many factors are at play.

1. Slower Sales

Australia experienced a shift in cultural consumption habits, particularly among youth. In 2023, Splendour in the Grass, the country’s most famous music festival, didn’t sell out within hours because of “delayed commitment to purchase,” as voiced by organizers who rely on opening-day sales for capital. 

2. Higher Overhead Costs

The rising equipment, insurance and venue costs contribute to canceled events. Extreme weather conditions also affect the viability of these outdoor events. A music festival works with suppliers and contractors, from stage installation to power generators, which adds to the increasing expenses of setting up a show.

3. Drop in Youth Attendance

College students are a significant target audience for music festivals. It’s a way for them to meet new people while bonding over their favorite artists and enjoying the outdoors. However, some individuals who came of age during the pandemic might have missed the rush of going to live events and may now seek other cultural experiences.

4. Accidents

Mishaps associated with large crowds might frighten hopeful festivalgoers. In 2021, 10 people died at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival due to compression asphyxia. In southern India last year, at least four students were killed and 60 individuals suffered injuries at a school music festival. The show was interrupted by rain, prompting the attendees to scamper for shelter, which led to a stampede.

5. Extreme Weather

This year, the Ultra Music Festival was canceled due to lightning and strong winds, prompting attendees to leave the venue immediately. Organizers of the Pitch Music & Arts Festival in Australia canceled the show due to fire danger at the site caused by extreme heat in the area. 

6. Sustainability Concerns

The Coachella music festival, boasting over 250,000 attendees, generates over 1,600 tons of waste. Organizers must prioritize sustainability to address this issue and retain eco-conscious festival goers. They could implement greener transportation options, such as encouraging carpooling or taking buses, trains and subways, and promote the usage of reusable utensils.

Ann Peebles, performing at the Beale Street Musical Festival in 2007 (Wikimedia Commons)

Canceled Music Festivals in the U.S.

Here are some events that announced their postponement in 2024.

Old Settler’s Music Festival (OSMF)

Organizers have paused the celebration this year after deciding to sell the OSMF Homestead. This music festival was founded in 1987 and featured bluegrass artists, including Terri Hendrix and Alison Krauss.

Beale Street Music Festival 2024 (BSMF)

The event will go on hiatus this year after suffering a substantial financial loss caused by costly expenses and decreased attendance. The BSMF has been held for 46 years.

Body Language Festival 2024

This Arizona-based festival was canceled seven days before its target date due to unforeseen circumstances. The organizers released a notice urging people to stay tuned for updates in the coming months.

Sonic Bloom 2024

Colorado-based Sonic Boom, which is traditionally held during the summer solstice, suspended operations this year. This music festival is a three-day campaign event that’s open to all ages. There was no indicated reason for closure in the announcement.

Riverbend Festival

Joining the lineup of canceled music festivals is the well-loved Riverbend Festival. This folk-centered event’s organizers extended their gratitude for the 40 beautiful years in their poster announcement, indicating that they’re reevaluating and restructuring for a successful event in the future.

Suwannee River Jam

The festival is closing its stages after 30 years due to numerous challenges, including rising talent costs and inflation. The Suwannee River Jam is a highly anticipated event that offers camping.

Firefly Music Festival 2024

Firefly hosts seven stages and more than 100 performers every year. Unfortunately, it’s not opening its gates this year. The organizers cited their return “when the timing is right.”

Glitch Mob performing at Electric Zoo 2010 (Wikimedia Commons)

Possible Cancellations

These events are predicted to be canceled this year:

Made in America 2024

The show was canceled last year due to production problems. The official dates, if any, are yet to be posted.

Electric Zoo 2024

In 2023, this festival was canceled before the gates opened because the main stage wasn’t built in time. The organizers mentioned supply chain shipping concerns. The second-day show started two hours late, leading to the postponement of some acts. No dates have been announced yet.

Canceled Music Festivals in the U.K.

The U.K. is facing a downward trend in music events this year. According to the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF),  the country could lose over 100 festivals due to rising costs. Here are some of the affected shows:

Nozstock The Hidden Valley Festival

This festival closed after 26 years due to the financial strain following significant COVID losses and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. 

Dumfries’ Doonhame Festival

Rising costs are the culprit for the show’s cancellation. According to the music festival’s co-founder, balancing ticket prices with soaring expenses and limited resources makes the event unsustainable. 

NASS Festival 2024

Organizers announced the cancellation of the 2024 show last year due to “sky-high operating costs,” urging the government to review the value-added tax on ticket sales and lower the rate to 5% to support the recovery of the music festival industry.

What’s Next?

The industry’s future remains promising despite the challenges that led to closures, so you can rest easy knowing you can still enjoy going to shows. The timeless appeal of live music ensures festivals are here to stay. Government support in managing rising costs and taxes is needed to support these festivals and keep the tunes playing.

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Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.