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BAM!: A Blueprint For Disaster?

News posted Thursday, July 1 2010 at 11:00 AM.
Related: Lost Weekend, Blueprint, BAM!.

BAM!: A Blueprint For Disaster?

The announcement of a “completely new style of festival” in Queensland in October sent alarm bells ringing at M+N HQ. And with good reason. After all, it was only 12 months ago that a guy called “Azza” aired his plans for an “all Aussie music festival in Melb” on the discussion boards, prompting a chorus of detractors who warned that he was way out of depths. He didn’t listen of course, and the festival ended up landing him and his brother a whopping $500,000 in debt. Likewise, organisers of Queensland’s Lost Weekend started off with big ambitions – they wanted to emulate Victoria’s Meredith Music Festival – but admirably pulled the pin when an 11th hour venue change gave them insufficient time to “achieve critical mass”.

So how does BAM! plan to succeed where other newcomers have failed? In an effort to seek some answers M+N user noneabove attended a compulsory artists’ meeting in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley on Monday (June 28) as a “concerned friend” of a band on the bill. Here's what transpired:

The event takes place in a printing and merchandising showroom above a printing workshop on a side street in the Valley. Dozens of demonstration stalls, posters, shampoo bottles and display awnings litter the room. A data projector at the front of the room throws onto a screen that appears to be a bed-sheet held onto a frame with bulldog clips.

Festival director Sarita Beavis talks like she’s delivering an introduction to Amway and ends her opening with the threat that we'll later break off into groups. She acknowledges almost immediately that the festival has seen some negativity from the public because of the failure of Lost Weekend and Blueprint, but she doesn't address those concerns. Rather, she explains how they’ve been carefully planning and researching BAM! for two years and uses a Powerpoint slide to show how it’s structured.

I put my head down just long enough to note that there's currently no listed logistics coordinator (they’re “TBA”) and when I look back up the slide is gone, replaced by a map of the campsite.

Sarita runs through the features of the campsite. If artists want to camp at the festival it's $100 per tent (two beds per tent) and the artist campsite has power (presumably this means the general site is unpowered). You also have your choice of camping outside the festival grounds or inside. Apparently outside is nice, quiet and isolated (which I took to mean “from the public”), the catch being that if you camp outside you actually have to drive around the perimeter fence to get into the festival itself.

Sarita also mentions a “VIP Stage”, which comfortably fits thousands of people, but will be limited to 600 punters. Anyone can do an “intimate” or “unplugged” show there – you just have to ask. She reveals there are around 300 VIP passes remaining, which is odd, seeing as their website points to them being sold out. She moves on to promotion, mentioning that BAM! has a comfortable relationship with local stations 4ZzZ and Switch 1197AM and that any artist who wants an interview should be able to get one. There will also be media there on the day (she doesn't say who), granting on-site interviews (again, to anyone who asks). She also mentions they have a “My Festival” poster available, which features each band at the top of the bill. (More on that later.)

Sarita then introduces a guy called Evan, who mentions he's been living overseas for the past five years, but has worked with Cirque du Soleil and DJ’ed at Monastery and Family (the mainstream clubs in the Valley). He says Bluesfest and Splendour spend big money on international acts, whereas local artists don't get a look in in terms of media and are given a “carton of water” and forgotten about. It’s interesting to note that BAM! artists aren’t paid at all, however, Evan maintains that bands still have an “opportunity” to make money by selling tickets. There's now a $5000 bonus for selling 100 tickets, which he admits is unlikely, but bands can join forces to increase their chances. He then claims that if at least one ticket is sold by every band member and organiser – there are more than 50 bands on the bill already, and 50 more to be announced, as well as 80 organisers at their count – the festival will well and truly break even.

He says they're not spending money on marketing because they want to keep costs down, and that both staging and stage managing are being handled by people who have major festival experience and are doing it through sponsorship or “belief”. Keeping the budget lower will keep numbers down, he says, and if they tried to get too big too soon they'd fail – they don't want 10,000 people in the first year because nobody would “get the right experience”.

He raves about the venue – the Ivory's Rock Conference Centre on the outskirts of Brisbane – and says it can hold 120,000 people, but makes no mention of how Lost Weekend failed only six months ago at the same site. The next thing he says makes me think they might be onto something: they have no intentions of making BAM! an exclusively “Brisbane festival”. Instead, they're targeting Ipswich and the Lakes district because they're untapped markets that will continue growing for the next five to 10 years.

The obvious counter is that few people in those areas would have any idea who these bands are. The majority of them are small Brisbane bands with little or no media exposure. On top of that, Brisbane's market is hardly saturated with festivals. The major festivals, Splendour In The Grass and The Big Day Out, are either held at the Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast hinterland and involve as much travel for Brisbanites as people in the outer reaches (BAM!’s apparent target market). He says in closing they expect 5000 people to attend.

Sarita returns to the mic and stresses that while tickets sale aren’t compulsory, they’re relying on everyone in the room to put in a 100 percent effort to avoid BAM! becoming another Lost Weekend. She says the bulk of ticket sales are expected to be generated by the people in the room, and that tonight’s turnout shows commitment and that the event is a “big thing”. (It’s worth noting that there’s no more than 50 people here in total, including several organisers for BAM! and multiple members from the same band. So if we're providing the bulk of ticket sales and there's roughly 35 bands represented and we sell five tickets per band that's ... about as many tickets were sold for Lost Weekend.)

Sarita ends the evening with a round of applause for the attendees, while people are encouraged to grab some ticket books (and there are plenty to take) or talk to Evan about the posters (again, plenty to take). There is no Q&A, which is a pity, so instead we hide in the shadows outside and harass other bands for more information.

One band member has the same question about the posters as us: What’s the point if billing is determined by higher ticket sales? And if the band times are now public (some bands are even posting them on Facebook) and the headline order changes because of ticket sales, won't that make the whole thing look like a disorganised mess? Evan confesses that the playing times are subject to change, and that if ticket sellers help the festival break even early, more paid headliners will be brought in, resetting the bill and playing times yet again. Nothing is set in stone, it seems.

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BAM! will take place from October 8-10 at Ivory’s Rock Conference Centre in Queensland. For more information click here.

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Your Comments

tugboat  said about 4 years ago:

mole


temporarybenbutler  said about 4 years ago:

If artists want to camp at the festival it's $100 per tent (two beds per tent)

So for a four-piece act that's $200 to play? Crikey.


hyperfuzz  said about 4 years ago:

wow, like other people, i would be tempted to go just to see how horrible it would be. not for $200 though. BAM! might become The Room of the festival circuit...


Hellzapoppin  said about 4 years ago:

Hahahaha, the artists paying for camping bullshit reminds me of many stories from Camp A Low Hum.

What a bunch of cunts.


filterfeed  said about 4 years ago:

this sounds amazing.


montyclift  said about 4 years ago:

BAM! will take place

wonder if centrebet might run a market on this?


FrankieTeardrop  said about 4 years ago:

Maybe it's just me, but putting the onus for the success of the festival on the bands seems pretty canny, but all kinds of screwy. I don't see how this system, as well as fact that bands still end up paying to play (and camp), makes this attractive to artists other than the completely desperate and clueless.


Goal attack  said about 4 years ago:

wonder if centrebet might run a market on this?

I'd put $10 on the cancellation announcement happening before the end of August.


Loungey  said about 4 years ago:

amaxing filterfeed, amaxing.


Goal attack  said about 4 years ago:

Maybe it's just me, but putting the onus for the success of the festival on the bands seems pretty canny, but all kinds of screwy. I don't see how this system, as well as fact that bands still end up paying to play (and camp), makes this attractive to artists other than the completely desperate and clueless.

It may work if the ticket prices were much lower, which comes back to the whole ''start small'' thing...


Hellzapoppin  said about 4 years ago:

''I don't see how this system, as well as fact that bands still end up paying to play (and camp), makes this attractive to artists other than the completely desperate and clueless.''

People are so fucking desperate to be recognised for the amazing artists they are that they'll believe and pay any amount of bullshit for the ability to offer up ''I played at a festival'' at the next dinner party they're thrown for fellow shitgibblets on the high seas.


suey+saints  said about 4 years ago:


FrankieTeardrop  said about 4 years ago:

The first thing any decent festival needs to do is treat the artists with some respect. That's how good will is generated. This sounds more like a Battle Of The Bands contest with added mud. Providing decent facilities and food to punters might also be advisable.


King_Rat  said about 4 years ago:

Hellzapoppin said 6 minutes ago:
Hahahaha, the artists paying for camping bullshit reminds me of many stories from Camp A Low Hum

Don't know what stories you have heard but I played there in different bands over the last 4 years and never paid to stay anywhere there. The only people I know who paid while they were also playing were people who signed up for a 'Jam' style stage to play a set as they weren't on the lineup. So they had to buy a ticket to attend anyway.


untold/animals  said about 4 years ago:

BAM! will theoretically take place from October 8-10 at Ivory’s Rock Conference Centre in Queensland.

Good write up, noneabove! Sounds like a complete fucking shambles.


57mercury  said about 4 years ago:

It screams of a private party paid for by the public and the bands.


NiteShok  said about 4 years ago:

Great work, noneabove.


jimmy hutspah  said about 4 years ago:


Hellzapoppin  said about 4 years ago:

Don't know what stories you have heard but I played there in different bands over the last 4 years and never paid to stay anywhere there. The only people I know who paid while they were also playing were people who signed up for a 'Jam' style stage to play a set as they weren't on the lineup. So they had to buy a ticket to attend anyway.

I was waiting for you to come thundering in :] The stories I've been told involve paying for tickets whilst being on the actual lineup.


King_Rat  said about 4 years ago:

haha yeah well I can only say what I know.

I'm not defending or preaching the festival but I imagine the stories you have heard are of the minority.


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tugboat  said about 4 years ago:

Who is ''them''?


BigRig  said about 3 years ago:

I just got hold of this thread after reading about the M+N 2010 online poll, and reading through the article I found the business model of the Bam! festival to be strikingly similar to a nationwide festival which is planned to run at various small venues around the country from December 2010 to May 201 which I received an email about only a few days ago.

This festivals' rub in a nutshell is:

''Bands earn their money from a package of Online Tickets, Physical tickets, Electronic Discount Vouchers and SMSs. The Ticket Packages are negotiable for artists needing to travel from overseas. Unfortunately, we don’t carry travel or accommodation costs.''

There is very little information on their website about who is organising it, apart from a small blurb which gives nothing away (certainly not any names).

I'm always skeptical about anything that is ''pay to play'', does anyone know anything about the festival I am referring to (without mentioning names) and whether there is any relationship between the now canceled Bam! festival?


mathieson  said about 3 years ago:

Start a new thread, name the festival, link to a website if they have one and the Shame Cauldron will come to life.


Lozenge  said about 3 years ago:

Carn' just say it...


flukazoid  said about 3 years ago:

oh boy, I'm excited!


Actionralf  said about 3 years ago:

ohhhhh... excellent.

rubs hands together


flukazoid  said about 3 years ago:

flukazoid  said about 3 years ago:

new thread created. go, shame cauldron, go!


SGH  said about 3 years ago:

Commence LOLing over the bandnames:

44th Sunset

Aeriae

Amberdown

Applebite the beggars on acid

Available At The Counter

Birds Of A Feather

Blatjang

Boston Shaker

BURN'COLLECT

BURNhabit

Cameron Brown

Cavefire Cinema

Chet

Chilling Winston

Cleveland Blues & the RedEye Junction

Cold Fate

Complete

Contraban

Crash And Burn

Crash And Burn

CZARINA

Danny John Trio

Diamond Eye

Doug Edwards

DT

Elisa Kate

End To Chivalry

FifthFiction

Forever Road

Jemma Paige

John Smith Quintet

Joss Mars and the Vice

Juwana

King & Ace

Kon Tempt

KREMATOR

Little Napier

littleman

Lizzyspit

MAD CHARLIE

Marc the Dreamer

Matty Trash and the Horrorbles

Melodramas

Minor Elite

Mirra Jensen

Mudguts

NATTAI

Oblivion

Only Just

overpass

Paper Like House

Phil Smith

Pitch Axis

Point Of View

Primary Colours

rampant

S.O.X

Sam Bucca

Sarah Baxter Band

Scatterfly

Sean Scott

Sebastian Simich

Seldom Party

Shoeless Joe

SITHYC

Stop Go

Suzy Connolly

Tahnee

talltails

Tektonik

Tempered Descent

Templeton

Terra

That Velvet Echo

The Beaut Utes

The Coil

The Cosmic Expansion Project

The Darlings

The Empty Apology

The Kumpnee

The Latonas

THE LAZY FLIES

The Lost Souls Club

The Unravelling

The Weekend Hiatus

Three Of Life

Ulterior Motives

Urban Prophetz

Ute Van Camper

Varial

Waiting 4 Andy

When Summer Ends

Youngsta


outerspacextrapnel  said about 3 years ago:

Surely some of those band names aren't real. They're too hokey.


moo-core  said about 3 years ago:

Available At The Counter

Winner.


NiteShok  said about 3 years ago:

Let this thread die!


penny lame  said about 3 years ago:

http://www.facebook.com/TrackAndFieldBrisbane
brisbane setting itself up for yet another fail festival?


goingblank  said about 3 years ago:

Better name and art than any of these other festivals, at least.


rawr  said about 3 years ago:

judging solely by the name i'm guessing it will be a twee indie band fest?

Better name and art than any of these other festivals, at least.

yeah, but it so easily becomes ''track and failed'' if it don't work!


rawr  said about 3 years ago:

On further research it's run by two management companies who have a couple of MOR artists each (Hungry Kids of Hungary, Last Dinosaurs etc) to their name, and is described as ''boutique'' (expensive/limited numbers) so I'd be surprised if it fails BAM! style.


flukazoid  said about 3 years ago:

The Mucho-Bravado involvement basically guarantees that the event will do at least modestly well (numerous Triple J bands, etc) even though from a musical point of view I don't think it'll be getting too many M+Ners whipped into a frenzy.


flukazoid  said about 3 years ago:

X-post!


goingblank  said about 3 years ago:

i'm guessing it will be a twee indie band fest?

If only! (Proper Field Mice-style twee that is)

One of the co-organisers is Mucho-Bravado: ''A music company currently focusing on management (Hungry Kids of Hungary, Ball Park Music, Tara Simons, Ed G), public relations and events/bookings.'' So expect all those bands on the bill I guess.


goingblank  said about 3 years ago:

should have refreshed the thread...


rawr  said about 3 years ago:

yeah, probably won't be needing the cauldron for this one.


flukazoid  said about 3 years ago:

just to resolve this particular sidetrack in the thread - the press release for this Track & Field thing arrived in my inbox. the lineup contains the expected boringness:

Featuring Last Dinosaurs, Ball Park Music, The Belligerents and Mitzi and DJ sets from Hungry Kids of Hungary, John Steel Singers and The Honey Month

but I appreciate where they're coming from in terms of the concept of the festival. I just wish they were booking better stuff:

Track & Field is the brainchild of artist managers Ben Preece and Stu McCullough that sits between a club night and a festival. ''Ben and I had been kicking the idea around for a while now, and both liked the idea of a boutique event that happened a few times a year, instead of the one big event at the same time and location every year. The idea is to make it feel like a regular warehouse party. Kind of like you and your friends taking over an interesting space every 3-4 months” outlines McCullough.

Proudly starting with a complete Brisbane line up, Track & Field is going to be a reoccurring event with the goal to showcase higher profile acts and offer an exciting event for touring artists. ''It's obvious Brisbane needs more when it comes to having spaces to play,'' Preece says. ''We intend to start Track & Field as a humble boutique event that will grow over time and eventually become a regular event and a significant Brisbane part of a potential Australian tour circuit. This first event is small and very local-focused but, on subsequent events, we'll definitely be looking to extend this reach to solid interstate bands.''


noneabove  said about 3 years ago:

This reminds me of the indie/twee column from Time Off some decade ago. I think Eileen D. should sue.


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