Could innovative tech be an answer to Australia’s festival woes?

Could innovative tech be an answer to Australia’s festival woes?

By Luke Trickett, Founder of Backpocket


The Australian festival industry has been struggling to make ends meet, resulting in a growing list of cancelled big-name events like Splendour in the Grass and Groovin The Moo. The issue isn’t the music or interest from ticket buyers, but rather a fundamental misunderstanding of what festival-goers want, and what their customer expectations are.

While the cost of rising overheads can be seen across the board, it’s the mainstream festivals that seem to struggle the most as niche festivals like SouledOut and Bluesfest are still strong performers at the ticket office. 80% of young Australians have said they’re willing to attend live music events at least once a year, so where’s the disconnect that’s stopping mainstream festivals from feeling the same success as their blues community counterparts?

While there are many factors at play, we need to look at the audience; they are part of the solution. Understanding the audience will help us see exactly where we must merge creativity and technology to get Australia’s festival scene back on track for 2025.

Understanding our audience

Festivals attract all sorts of Aussies, but the struggling mainstream category works with bigger numbers and a younger demographic. This cohort is among those most impacted by the cost of living crisis and its resulting inflated ticket prices. Already, 73% of event-goers feel tickets are more expensive than last year, with ‘value for money’ arising as an obstacle for one in five potential attendees.

We need to consider how to connect with this audience and overcome the barriers preventing them from purchasing tickets. Just as FOMO sees us jumping on the latest iPhone or AI gadget, wanting to be part of a major cultural moment drives festival goers. In fact, nearly half of Aussies recently cited ‘fear of missing out’ as the core reason for purchasing festival tickets last year.

When we marry these two audience concepts, it’s clear that they all want the same things — to make memories together without breaking the bank. This is where tech steps in to remove the current barriers to entry and help get the ticket booth back on track.

Taking down barriers with tech

Aussies may want to go to festivals with friends, however, today’s economic environment means financial responsibility comes first. Take the clunky ticket purchasing journey for festivals for example. While it’s easy for one person to pay for their own ticket, more often than not tickets are purchased together. This makes it a very expensive checkout process for the one friend left to shoulder the cost. With 4.9 million people experiencing a friend failing to pay them back in the last year, this process can feel high risk and off-putting for many.

So far, Aussie innovators have relied on varying BNPL options as a solution to such financial obstacles, however, this does not absorb the financial responsibility. BNPL is an easy integration at the checkout and has been undeniably popular, but tides may be turning. Aussies are beginning to feel the negative impact of what can often be considered a predatory offering. In the past four years, BNPL late fees have jumped from 5% to 20%. This is particularly problematic considering the heavy use of BNPL services with young, financially struggling Australians.

Tech innovators need to look beyond band-aiding the problem. Consider Backpocket’s solution for example, in a world of BNPLs, it is the only payment method in the world to offer split group payments at the point of sale with no extra fees.

Innovative tech and festival ticket purchasing may not jump out as the most likely of links, but could a solution to many of Australia’s festival woes be as simple as a new payment integration? The festival industry isn’t failing, but is unable to outrun the financial onus of a cost of living crisis unless we intervene with some really out-of-the-box thinking. By stepping back and considering what is truly needed to support Australians through checkout, we can not only change the face of the payments landscape, but also Australia’s once flourishing arts scene.