Michael Chugg talks Splendour, refunds and live’s looming revival
Australian concert promoter Michael Chugg has labelled Splendour’s plans to reboot in October “very ambitious” during an interview on The Briefing.
Talking to hosts Tom Tilley and Annika Smethurst, Chugg was asked about the impact of the coronavirus on live music and how hard Australia’s industry has been hit.
He also thinks that when the industry does bounce back, “Australian music is going to mean more than it has ever meant”, given expected travel restrictions could outlast bans on mass gatherings.
The music mogul believes festivals can happen without a vaccine, however, a recent survey of triple j listeners found that 43% of music fans think otherwise.
“If they find a vaccine, great, there’s going to be a lot of barriers put in place,” he said. “There’s going to be very careful health checks that have gotta happen.”
The outcome of a similar study of 4,000 music fans by Reuters in the US revealed that 60% said there’d be no way they’d attend a live music event in the current climate.
Event cancellations and postponements in Australia, including Groovin The Moo, Download and Bluesfest, have already lost the sector $340 million, according to I Lost My Gig.
Tilley and Smethurst also quizzed Chugg on Splendour’s new dates: “They’re taking a punt,” he said. “You know I don’t want to be negative towards Splendour or any of the festivals.”
Chugg admitted he’d like to get a couple of festivals up and away too, with his co-run CMC Rocks one of the many festivals forced to cancel, but added that “October is very ambitious”.
Promoter Secret Sounds, run by festivals co-founders Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco, made the decision mid-March to postpone their 20th-anniversary.
Tickets went on sale to the general public in February, with the biggest-ever allocation of 50,000, and were sold out within an hour.
Chugg also tackled the issue of ticket refunds in response to postponed events, a subject that has come under media and consumer scrutiny in many territories over recent weeks.
“If people can hold onto their tickets and don’t need the money themselves, it helps the industry,” he said. “Moving a tour from July to December is plenty of time to get refunds.”
Chugg remains confident that “Australia is very fair” when it comes to refunding policies.