Rampant Rumors




All personal accounts I’ve heard suggest that Metallica’s Orion Music + More Festival in New Jersey this June was not very well-attended. This is purely anecdotal information without any hard justification whatsoever, although it’s been consistent across multiple sources; it’s entirely possible that the thing sold out and just appeared empty because of the size of the venue, a spacious former airport in Atlantic City. The ultimate question: did the festival attract a large enough audience to at least break even and warrant a 2013 reprise?

Two tidbits have come out in the past few days that could shed some light on the fest’s future, although they’re seemingly contradictory: a report indicating that ticket sales were relatively weak by Metallica standards, and an optimistic quote from who else but Lars Ulrich.

The attendance figures come from the Press of Atlantic City, who reported last week that approximately 24,000 total tickets were sold for the two-day event. Compare that to Metallica’s sold-out two-night stand at Madison Square Garden (concert capacity: 20,000) in 2009. That means 16,000 less people were interested in seeing Metallica headline this year than they were three years ago… all things being equal. Of course, not all things were equal: a 2-day pass for Orion cost $175 (most MSG tickets were less, but were only for one show), outdoor concerts are considerably more expensive to put on, Metallica do not have a new album out right now, there were tons of other bands to pay, there was additional revenue from vendors, Atlantic City is not NYC, etc, etc, etc and about a billion other factor. The truth is there’s no way we can deduce from the available information whether Orion was profitable or not, but at least this one thing seems certain: with all the hype leading up to the festival, Metallica’s full-album setlist gimmick, all the additional bands, the vendors, the attractions, the setting, and Metallica’s attendance history, 12k attendees per day for this thing seems really weak.

On the other hand, with a $4.2 million gross for this thing (not including $750 VIP tickets, sponsorship income and vendor commissions/rentals), who the fuck knows?

Then there’s Lars Ulrich’s recent comment to the press: “We had a great experience in New Jersey, and as we look to 2013, we’re definitely looking to keep it in New Jersey or to keep it on the East Coast.” While that comment expresses a desire to bring the fest back in 2013, it falls short of guaranteeing it — so it could just be hopeful optimism on Lars’ behalf. But ventures of this magnitude aren’t necessarily expected to make a profit in the first year anyway, and surely the event’s organizers learned enough from this go-round to greatly improve next year’s event if there is one. I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

Conclusion: there is no conclusion. Keep speculating!


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