A recent online survey of 2,949 fans by Australian online ticket retailer Moshtix found that more than 40 percent of respondents have had a less enjoyable experience at Aussie music festivals over the past five years.

Survey respondents cited problems with drug and alcohol use and an increase in violence among concertgoers as a primary factor in attendee dissatisfaction. In addition, the respondents also reported they not happy about the high cost of attending such events.

According to the company’s inaugural State of the Festival Market Report 2011, 41.6 percent of respondents claimed a worsening experience at festivals in recent years, while 24.9 percent said that the quality of their experience was stable over the period. Also, more than a quarter (27.2 percent) complained that there were already too many festivals put on each year.

Only 23.4 percent identified the festival setting as their favorite music venue, while more than half reported that their preferred venue was the more intimate setting of a pub.

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But most telling were the more than 80 percent of fans who cited the high cost of festival tickets as a deterrent, giving festival organizers some food for thought in the face of declining receipts that led to last year’s cancellations of two big festivals, Homebake and the UK import V Festival.

Moshtix is owned by the Rupert Murdoch-led News Corp’s Australian newspaper division, News Limited, which last year launched Foxtix, its own online ticketing company meant to compete with the big two Australian ticketers, Ticketek and Live Nation’s Ticketmaster division. Foxtix is attempting to undercut its competitors through reduced booking fees and expanding technologies, such as mobile ticketing. Although taking on two behemoths, Foxtix enters the Australian market with the distinct advantage of having the money and supercharged media tools of the Murdoch’s empire at its disposal.

Adam McArthur, CEO of News Ticketing, which runs both Moshtix and Foxtix, agrees that there has been a decline in the quality of Australian music festivals in recent years. Quoted last week in News.com.au, another Murdoch-owned entity, McArthur stated, “Everyone in the industry talks about 2009 being the peak of festivals. Everything was selling out in record time and then last year it started to slip.”

McArthur reiterated the survey’s findings of poor upkeep of infrastructure, inattention to security issues, and unreasonable pricing as the causes of fan discontent.

Among the positives noted in the survey, fans noted that festival organization, as well as the quality of acts booked, had largely improved over the past five years. In fact, the survey found that who is on the roster of these events is still the main determinant of fan interest in buying festival tickets, giving organizers clues as to how to enhance the audience experience going forward.

In a press release announcing the results of the survey, McArthur responded directly to fans’ concerns in his recommendations to those running future Australian music festivals: “Promoters need to find the right balance between securing a high-quality line-up, keeping the ticket price as low as possible and attracting the right crowds to their festivals.”

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