While not the only people to be burnt by the now-defunct Soundwave festival following its spectacular collapse, Adelaide ratepayers have been left to foot a $75k bill after a decision was made by Adelaide City Council to waive the debt owed to it by the festival and instead pass the bill onto ratepayers.
A News Corp report reveals that the festival’s promoter AJ Maddah and his company Soundwave Festival Pty Ltd, which said its last goodbyes in Adelaide back in 2015 before folding under horrendous debt, has managed to provide liquidators with a mere $0.02 for every dollar the festival owed – that is, a paltry sum of $1,529.
With liquidators not expecting to be able to recover any more of the amount owed, Adelaide councillors made the decision to give up on the $75,391 that is still owed, writing the sum off as “bad debt” and effectively passing that cost onto ratepayers instead.
It’s another terrible result to come from Soundwave’s demise, which saw its debt swell to over $25m as high-profile international touring acts were owed millions, not to mention countless others who worked with the festival during its decline. According to its liquidators, the company was in fact insolvent as early as 2014, a year before its expansion from a single-day event to a two-day in 2015, its final year of operation.
Of those international bands, Soundgarden were owed $2.1 million, Faith No More were shorted $750k, and Smashing Pumpkins were out of pocket a cool $1.2 million, while touring company Live Nation was owed over $1 million.
Despite the hefty bill for its residents, Adelaide Council remains upbeat about the importance of music events to the city, both for locals and as a tourist draw.
“The City of Adelaide plays a key role in events that aim to increase visitation and cultural activity year-round,’’ a council spokesman explained. “While the outcome of the Soundwave Festival event was disappointing, the council will continue to support applications for events that encourage a wide range of cultural experiences throughout the city.”
When asked if they’d ever consider working with Maddah again, the answer was the definition of diplomatic, with council claiming they’d “assess any future applications from event organisers on their merits”.
With a $75k bill to pay, however, we don’t expect Adelaide residents will be keen to revisit Soundwave or its promoter any time soon.