TCMF draws younger audiences but camping figures fall in 2020
Official attendance and revenue figures are still being collated for the 48th Toyota Country Music Festival (TCMF), staged across 10 days in January.
It is expected that after strong sales out of the block when tickets went on the market late last year, that the continuing drought and current bushfire crisis softened crowd numbers.
Traditionally, 60% of the TCMF crowd comes from outside the region, 10% from metro areas.
Throughout the East Coast, homeowners noticeably weren’t travelling during the holiday break – or if they were, not going too far from their properties.
Just before Christmas, the fires reached 50kms from the TCMF site.
As a result, camping figures were down as were concerts usually attended by grey nomads.
However, festival general manager Barry Harley points out, “it appears those numbers (of the older patrons) were replaced by a younger demographic coming out, on that first weekend particularly.
“Some of the younger venues really exceeded their expectations that first weekend, with younger performers attracting a younger crowd.”
TCMF began changing its marketing towards a younger demographic five years ago.
Much of the marketing budget is still aimed at “rusted-on fans” and families, stressing its safety.
A quarter is to the 18—35 age bracket, tapping on those who’ve recently discovered country music through Americana, and enjoying its organic sounds and story-telling prowess.
In recent years, the average age of a TCMF attendee has dropped from 55 to 49.
Harley says younger fans and musicians are courted through social media, and music publications like The Music Network “whom we know is not specifically country but they (the readers) know good music is good music.
“Country music might not be their first choice.
“But we know they can have a good time at Tamworth and be happy with what they see.”
Last year’s profile spike in newcomer acts at various events and awards, repeated in 2020.
It’s also sparked brand sponsorship interest from technology, insurance and banking companies.
But that’s not to say that the young group over-ran the festival’s events.
Lee Kernaghan and Troy-Cassar Daley held court, with sell-outs from Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Adam Harvey, John Williamson, Darren Coggan, Brad Cox, Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart, Amber Lawrence, Aleyce Simmonds and the heralded return of McAlister Kemp.
Despite tickets priced at $100 each, the star-studded tribute to Joy McKean’s 90th birthday was a sell-out.
Cold Chisel’s Tamworth stop on their national Blood Moon Tour also drew the numbers.
Felicity Urquhart trumped the January 25 Golden Guitars’ with six wins including album of the year.
The three hosts of the Golden Guitars were newcomers: Melanie Dyer, Sinead Burgess and Caitlyn Shadbolt who started out around the same time.
The stand-out new name was 19-year-old Blake O’Connor who took out best new talent at the Golden Guitars and a male artist finalist in 2020 after winning the Toyota Star Maker last year.
Other new talent finalists were Casey Barnes who was signed to Chugg Music, Sinead Burgess who made in-roads in the UK & US markets, Seaforth who signed to Sony Music Nashville and toured extensively in the US and family group The Buckleys who signed with Petrol Records/Universal Music and reached #1 on the Australian Country Airplay Chart with their debut single, and are about to drop their first album.
For the first time, nine of the ten finalists of Star Maker were female, won by 22-year-old Sammy White from Townsville.
Young Gold Coast singer-songwriter Naomi Connell was awarded the festival’s busking champion.
The Golden Guitars were streamed by close to 100,000, but figures for the ABC-TV telecast are not available.