‘Stick It, Live Nation’: Peter Noble Addresses Challenges Facing Bluesfest
Bluesfest founder Peter Noble has told international touring giant Live Nation to “stick it” in a wide-ranging speech which covered everything from the lower attendance at the festival this year to the risks of the industry continuing to corporatise.
“The elephant in the room is, yes, there’s not as many people at Bluesfest this year as last year. It’s not bad and it’s not great,” he told an invite-only room of guests at the festival on Saturday.
Noble pointed to economic factors as the reason for the dip in attendance.
“We can’t fight changes in society,” he said. “And the changes in society have come with multiple interest rate rises every month except for this week… People’s lives are being impacted. They haven’t got enough money to go out. Netflix becomes ore interesting because they stay home for it. Inflation is rising.”
He said while he’s not happy with the idea of a fourth year of pain for the local music and events industry, he’s not going to walk away from it either.
It’s here that he took a few digs at rival festival Splendour in the Grass, as well as the big multinational corporations which are gobbling up smaller local operators.
“My festival is not owned by an overseas multinational. I own my festival. I am Australian… Nobody else owns 51% of my event like those up the road here [Splendour] and many others… Know that there are Australian people who are proud of what they’ve created and won’t sell out to overseas interests.
“Yea, they’ve approached me a couple of times. I don’t dislike them or anything. It’s just not what I want to do. I want to pass my event onto my family. I’m part of Byron. I’ve been part of Byron for over 30 years, and I’m not going to go ‘I’m part of Byron’ and some other guy owns me and all I end up with at the end of it all is a backstage pass to the event I created. Stick it, Live Nation.”
He said international corporatised businesses are changing the country and the face of the local music industry. People who previously would have gone into professions such as accounting or law are instead becoming the decision makers in music, he said.
“Nowadays when I go backstage at events that are run by multinationals, I see a different group of people there. They’re ambitious. They’re in the music industry to create a life where people become wealth… We’re corporatising. We really are.
“People are buying artists for millions of dollars and all they do is play for them. And guys like me don’t get to buy the artists as easily as we used to, even if they want to play here…
“If we’re not careful, we become like the corner store and Wallmarts takes over. Well that’s what I view these companies as – major corporate businesses.”
The message received a mixed response, with many cheering him along, but some, spotted by Noble, were clearly uncomfortable.
“I see a couple of people out there wincing,” he said. “I’m sorry, but we need to protect our industry and it starts with making sure the Australian industry is Australian owned… We’re an institution and we’re not going anywhere.”
Noble did not address the controversy and criticism around having Sticky Fingers on the Bluesfest bill – which resulted in multiple performers pulling out of the lineup and the band itself ultimately withdrawing.