OneMusic Fest still alive while Music Midtown, Imagine skip 2024

Imagine blames higher costs on making the festival financially untenable

Atlanta is seeing music festival whiplash.

One day after Live Nation, the country’s largest concert promoter, canceled its major annual Atlanta festival Music Midtown, One MusicFest confirmed that it will be back this October.

Marketed as Atlanta’s premier festival for Black music and culture since 2010, One MusicFest will return to Piedmont Park Oct. 26 and 27. Artist lineup and ticket sales are coming soon. Last year’s event, headlined by Kendrick Lamar, Janet Jackson and Megan Thee Stallion, attracted a record 100,000-plus people.

Crowds are seen at ONE Musicfest at Piedmont Park in Atlanta on Sunday, October 29, 2023. (Arvin Temkar /


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But just a few weeks ago, another major Atlanta music festival, the EDM-based Imagine Music Festival at Kingston Downs in Rome said it’s taking a break as well after attracting about 20,000 attendees last year.

Worldwide, there are signs festivals are under some strain, according to Andy Gensler, executive editor of Pollstar, which tracks the concert touring business.

Sales at Coachella, the famed California festival, were reportedly soft last month. Philadelphia’s Made in America festival was nixed for a second year in a row. Australia’s Splendour in the Grass has pulled the plug this year.

“In recent years, festivals are competing with stadium tours for both audience and talent,” Gensler said. “It can be harder to put together blockbuster bills at the same time. And consumers may not want to pay out large ticket expenditures for multiple events.”

Live Nation did not comment or explain why it isn’t resuming Music Midtown, which usually features a blend of pop, rock and hip-hop in its lineup. Last year’s event, which hosted headliners Pink, Billie Eilish and Guns N’ Roses at Piedmont Park in September, was offering discounted tickets in the final days leading up to the festival and crowds were noticeably smaller.

5 Things to Know About the Imagine music Festival

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Glenn and Maddy Goodhand, independent creators of Imagine Music Festival, blamed inflation making it impossible for them to even break even if they held the event again.

“After COVID, we saw so much inflation, we weren’t able to recover from it,” said Maddy Goodhand, who has been promoting EDM shows with her husband for more than 25 years in metro Atlanta. “Prices kept going up and never went down.”

She said they were hit from all sides: artists costs, security, insurance. “Our costs went up 50% from before COVID but we couldn’t justify raising our ticket prices by that amount,” she said.

Glenn Goodhand said as independent promoters, they lack the clout of a Live Nation to negotiate costs down or absorb a hit as easily if a festival fails to meet expectations.

Imagine, like Bonnaroo or Coachella, also involves overnight camping, which creates more liability risk. “With the infrastructure we have to create and the 24/7 security, the costs have become astronomical,” Maddy said.

She said they may have to regroup and consider moving back in town and doing smaller events that don’t involve overnight stays.

2024 SweetWater 420 Fest, Stage.
(Courtesy of SweetWater Brewing)

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

The Sweetwater 420 Festival last month, which was held at Pullman Yards, had to be scaled back when advance ticket sales didn’t meet goals.

Two weeks before the festival, the organizers dropped two of its headliners the Black Pumas and Beck and made the festival free except for a $10 donation to the Waterkeeper Alliance. In the end, they drew 15,000 people over two days.

Maureen Meulan, who runs Pullman Yards and worked with Sweetwater 420 to put the festival together, was new to festival management.

“I was shocked by the amount of staff we needed to pull it off,” she said. “We needed 200 bartenders. We had 20 police officers and 30 more security guards. We had 15 cleaners each day. There were 30 people dealing with the music production, lighting, rigging, forklift operators. There were crews of people just tending to the artists.”

Yet she still finds festivals fundamentally appealing. “We’d love to do it again with Sweetwater,” Meulen said. “we may have to scale back some things and make some adjustments.”

Indeed, the rock-oriented three-day Shaky Knees Festival this past weekend at Central Park, which featured Noah Kahan, the Foo Fighters and Weezer, sold out.

Over three days, the event went smoothly with only one minor rain issue.

Foo Fighters closed out Shaky Knees 2024 on Sunday night with extended versions of their biggest hits. (RYAN FLEISHER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION)

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

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Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Shaky Knees isn’t the only festival that has seen success. Last year, One MusicFest announced plans for expansion. During Memorial Day weekend, the festival will host its inaugural TwoGether Land in Dallas. Headliners include Lil Wayne, Summer Walker and Latto.