BDO: Oz promoter owner still involved despite sale

AJ Maddah blames a lack of headline acts for the cancellation of the 2015 festival, saying that it was just timing that made certain bands unavailable.
Eddie Vedder of 2014 Big Day Out headliners Pearl Jam on stage in Auckland (Photo: Natalie Slade)
Eddie Vedder of 2014 Big Day Out headliners Pearl Jam on stage in Auckland (Photo: Natalie Slade)

The former promoter of Big Day Out, AJ Maddah, says he is already working on bringing back the festival in 2016.

American company C3 Presents, which owns the festival, revealed on Thursday that the Big Day Out would not go ahead in 2015.

Maddah sold his half of the organisation to the American company for just $1 earlier in June, with an option to buy it back for the same amount, he revealed on radio station Triple J on Thursday night.

"I don't have a financial ownership in the Big Day Out," he said. "I have the option to buy back my 50 per cent ownership for $1 when it comes back in 2016."

He promised several times during the show that the festival would return in two years.

"It will come back: we're working on a 2016 line-up as it stands between myself and C3," he said.

He also said there were discussions on introducing new elements to the festival.

The promoter blamed a lack of headline acts for the cancellation of the 2015 festival, saying that it was just timing that made certain bands unavailable.

"For a lot of bands it's about cycles: they put out an album, they tour ... take time off and come back ... and we have what we would call a fallow year for headliners," he said.

He also explained that putting together the festival with a sub-standard line-up would damage an "already fragile brand".

"The losses from (this year's) Big Day Out were a lot higher than I expected," he said.

Maddah revealed he lost $A5.5 million.

One of the festival's founders, Vivian Lees, said Maddah had a dysfunctional relationship with C3 Presents.

Lees sold his share of Big Day Out to C3 Presents in 2012.

"It's pretty tragic that it won't be coming back this year," he said.

Maddah is also a promoter for the metal-oriented Soundwave festival and Lees said the cancellation of the Big Day Out festival would have a positive effect for Soundwave.

"He professed to love (Big Day Out) but at the end of the day he held the cards... considering he was the owner of the competitive event, he wanted it every which way...

"If the Big Day Out works - great, if it didn't, then he got rid of the competition," Lees said.

Maddah denied there was a conflict of interest with Soundwave and said that festival was never on a "knife edge" financially, whereas he said Big Day Out had been struggling when he first came on board.

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