This hasn’t been the greatest year for music festivals. Now there’s even more bad news for music fans in British Columbia. For the second time in its five-year history, the multi-day music festival Pemberton has been cancelled. If you click on Pemberton’s official website, all you’re able to see is a notice of bankruptcy. What really sucks for the people who bought passes to the festival to see Chance The Rapper, A Tribe Called Quest, Muse, or HAIM to name a few, is that automatic refunds are being withheld.
“As PMF is now in bankruptcy, it has no ability to provide refunds for tickets purchased. However ticketholders may file a proof of claim form as an unsecured creditor with EYI in accordance with the claims process. Proof of claim forms will be mailed to known PMF creditors in due course and made available on the Trustee’s website. A determination of recovery, if any, on the claims of ticket holders from the estate will not be known for several weeks. The Trustee will provide an update to creditors in due course.”
This latest development certainly provides cause to question whether or not the great music festival boom has finally reached its peak? The big events like Coachella and Lollapalooza seem to be doing just fine, but attendance issues plagued a number of the most prominent names in the game last year like Bonnaroo and Sasquatch. Governors Ball turned into a total disaster because of bad weather in 2016, which forced organizers to cancel the last day of the festival, including Kanye West’s headlining set. And then of course there was the megaton debacle of Ja Rule’s disastrous island getaway Fyre Festival. The lawsuits for that one are still rolling in.
While it’s fair to say that audience fatigue and ambivalence has set in amongst some, the industry itself is still raking in money hand over fist. As long as the two heaviest hitters in the game, Live Nation and AEG, who are responsible for promoting a large portion of the most recognized events across the U.S. each Summer, continue to vie for supremacy over each other, the intricate network of festivals isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Still, you have to wonder how long the audience is going to stick around to see who comes out on top?