AJ Maddah on Big Day Out losses: “It’s going to be ugly”

AJ Maddah has conceded heavy losses for this year’s Big Day Out tour.

The Soundwave promoter made the candid admission in an interview with triple j’s Hack program this afternoon. When asked by host Tom Tilley whether Fairfax reports of losses between $8- and $15-million were accurate, Maddah said that it was in the lower-end of that spectrum. “We still don’t know,” he said, “but it’s going to be ugly.”

Maddah bought into the Big Day Out in late October last year, purchasing Ken West’s stake of the festival. He now splits ownership of the festival with the US promoters of Lollapalooza, C3 Presents. Maddah said he knew he was buying into a “seriously wobbly” event that was in serious danger of being shelved for 2014.

“It wasn’t going to go ahead this year until I walked in,” he said. “They were on the edge of the abyss, on the edge of cancelling the event. To my mind if they cancelled it would be completely lost and it would never come back … It would’ve been very sad to me to watch it die without putting up a fight. That’s why I came on board. I was rowing the lifeboat back to the Titanic, rather than the other way around so to speak.”

While Maddah confirmed the axing of the Perth Big Day Out, he said he expected the festival to return to the east-coast in 2015, including Adelaide. “I walked into this knowing the full picture and knowing what had happened,” he said. ”[The Big Day Out is] meshed so much with Australian music history and live music over the past 25 years – so I think it’s a brand that people will come back to.”

Maddah also discussed ticket prices, Blur’s last-minute cancellation and the problems with the 2014 lineup over the course of the 30-minute interview. Full story to come.

This year’s Big Day Out – headlined by Pearl Jam and Arcade Fire – wrapped up in Perth on Sunday.