'It doesn't make sense to run Sonisphere in the UK': Stuart Galbraith on Kilimanjaro Live's festival future

'It doesn't make sense to run Sonisphere in the UK': Stuart Galbraith on Kilimanjaro Live's festival future

Kilimanjaro Live CEO and Music Week coverstar Stuart Galbraith has given an insight into the company's future festival plans, explaining it would not make financial sense to revive Sonisphere in the UK.

The pan-European rock and metal touring festival launched in 2009 but hasn’t taken place in the UK since 2014, when it was headlined by Metallica and Iron Maiden at Knebworth Park.

The promoter, which celebrated its 10th birthday with a party at Omeara in London Bridge last week, has since moved on to more boutique events - partnering with classical promoter Raymond Gubbay on Kew The Music, Royal Hospital Chelsea for Live At Chelsea and The O2 on the Stone Free Festival.

"The amount of money we used to risk on Sonisphere went up and up because of the cost of talent and the cost of running the festivals went through the roof," said Galbraith (pictured), speaking in the latest issue of Music Week. "We can now run Kew and Chelsea for about 20% of the risk, but we still get the same level of return and so it just doesn’t make sense to run Sonisphere in the UK."

Though the 2014 Sonisphere was a success, its 2012 edition was a chastening experience for all concerned - line-up difficulties leaving Kili with no option but to cancel the event at a substantial cost.

“One thing that Sonisphere project taught us in the UK is the level of risk now versus the return," said Galbraith. "Elsewhere in the world, the Sonisphere brand is something that we will still keep using but - in the UK - running a 70,000 or 80,000-capacity festival and spending what is now up to $5 million (£3.5m) on headliners is just a broken business model. 

“I think we’ll see ourselves go back into festivals but on a precision basis," added Galbraith. "We’re not going to risk £12m on an 80,000-capacity festival, you don’t need to do that any longer.”

See this week's edition of Music Week or click here to read our cover story with Galbraith, senior promoter Steve Tilley and head of operations Zac Fox as they lift the lid on Kili's first decade in business. 

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