Last week saw the dissolution of The Venue Collective. An unprecedented venture in the Australian live music market, The Venue Collective united the booking logistics of nine of Australia’s most popular music venues.

Speaking to Tone Deaf, co-founder Ben Thompson specifically cited the collapse of a string of Australia’s big music festivals as among the factors contributing to his decision to shut down The Venue Collective.

“We’ve lost a heap of big festivals, therefore we’ve lost a heap of international acts touring the country. The Aussie dollar’s dipped down below 70 cents and I think there’s a few factors of why that mid-sized touring’s been a bit slower,” he said.

Indeed, the loss of the Big Day Out, followed later by Soundwave and most recently Stereosonic, has changed the face of the Australian live music landscape and has made the annual touring calendar a lot less crowded.

So, is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Big Day Out co-founder Viv Lees reckons there is and there’s a lot of evidence suggesting he’s not just being optimistic. It looks like we might be on the cusp of an Aussie music festival renaissance.

Of course, Australia’s current music festival landscape is hardly barren. There are plenty of events such as Splendour In The Grass and Bluesfest which are doing better than ever and even touring festivals like Groovin The Moo.

Speaking recently to FasterLouder, Lees stated his belief that the big Aussie music festival model is still viable and that it’s simply a matter of time before “the dust settles” and “some bright spark will discover it again”.

Indeed, Ben Thompson shares this belief, revealing to Tone Deaf last week that there’s been murmurings of three new big touring festivals that are set to debut in Australia some time in the new year.

“We have lost some festivals and it’s going to take time for things to realign after that,” he said. “I think things will definitely come back and it’s looking like we’ll have three big touring festivals in the country next year and hopefully there’ll be a sideshow boom and that’ll really help stimulate things.”

It seems it’s just a matter of which festivals will be filling the gap left by the departure of the Big Day Out and Soundwave. We already know for a fact that we’ll be getting a Soundwave replacement in Legion Festival.

After some trouble securing funding via a crowdsourcing campaign, Legion Festival organisers confirmed they would be going ahead with the heavy music event in January 2017, visiting the East Coast, with mini-festival in Perth and Adelaide.

“It’s looking like we’ll have three big touring festivals in the country next year and hopefully there’ll be a sideshow boom and that’ll really help stimulate things.”

Following the confirmation that Legion would be going ahead, former Soundwave promoter AJ Maddah took to Twitter to muse, “Things are heating up. We may have 3 new rock festivals next year! Download, Sonisphere + Legion!”

Whilst details were obviously scant, Maddah did manage to offer some odds on any of these festivals making their way Down Under, saying it’s “100% that we’ll get 1. 50% that we’ll get 2. 25% that all 3 happen.”

Rumours about a potential Australian Download leg were sparked after booker Andy Copping suggested fans should not give up hope about the fate of heavy festivals in Australia, telling despondent fans on Twitter to “watch this space”.

The rumours were bolstered after international touring giant Live Nation announced that their Australasian offshoot would be partnering with UNIFIED, the folks behind UNIFY Gathering and bands like Northlane, The Amity Affliction, and In Hearts Wake.

“Seeing a gap in the rock market and holding many key relationships around the world, UNIFIED’s decision to enter the touring space is an important move for the Australian market,” a press release announcing the partnership read.

The two industry players seemingly spotted another gap in the Australian festival market, because the press release also made a point of mentioning that “Live Nation is also the producer of the UK’s famous DOWNLOAD Festival.”

However, details about a potential Sonisphere expansion are scant and it bears noting that the event may not be in a position to expand – Sonisphere does not currently have any 2016 events scheduled and the 2015 instalment was cancelled in January last year.

So what could the third event be? Well, there have been rumours for some time now that iconic US festival Lollapalooza could be eyeing an expansion to Australia. After all, it’s not like Lollapalooza’s promoters don’t already have roots in Australia.

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C3 Presents, the Austin-based company that owns Lollapalooza are also the owners of Big Day Out, and there has been talk that our beloved Big Day Out could make its return as an Australian iteration of Lollapalooza.

As Tone Deaf reported back in 2014, event founder Perry Farrell previously told Billboard he is “excited” about Lollapalooza’s international plans and Maddah once told triple j’s Hack that such a rebranding was “absolutely” possible.

Searches on the websites for IP Australia and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission do yield results for Lollapalooza, though this doesn’t necessarily confirm an actual event happening in Australia.

Only time will tell just what the Australian music festival scene will look like a year from now, but if the rumours and industry chatter are true, there’s still plenty of reason to hold on to hope. Watch this space.

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