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When they declared the global pandemic and the first lockdown began, we had already sold 10,200 tickets for MetalDays 2020. This was the fastest-selling year in the festival’s history, and it was almost certain we would be sold out with 12,000 tickets by the end of March 2020. Due to Covid-19, the festival got canceled, and all tickets already bought were simply rolled over to 2021. Because the Slovenian Government didn’t think our industry was worth helping, we almost didn’t get any financial help from the state. We struggled with regular expenses like office rentals, storage house rentals, and employee wages. Like many, we believed the lockdown would not last long, and because of that, we didn’t change anything regarding our regular expenses. Our judgment was wrong, and it was a mistake to continue our business affairs as if nothing had happened.

Despite having sold over 10,000 tickets for MetalDays 2020, we had no savings. MetalDays is an independent festival with a very delicate cash flow. Because MetalDays is so personal to the organizers, it often led to overspending to ensure everything was perfect and to delight visitors. This is great for the audience as they get an experience they likely wouldn’t find at a major festival, but it's financially challenging for us. The first MetalDays edition, with only 6,200 visitors, resulted in a €1.2 million loss. In the following years, the festival grew and became profitable, allowing us to recover from the losses of the first edition. We have reinvested the profits from MetalDays into our other festivals: Winter Days of Metal, Headbanger’s Holiday, Bluesland, Overjam Reggae (2017-2019), and Punk Rock Holiday (2013-2016). Consequently, we had no savings when Covid-19 struck. This was not very prudent from a business perspective but was done with enthusiasm. It’s something we would approach differently now. Who could have imagined that a global pandemic would force us to stay home and be unable to work? Lesson learned.

By the end of 2021, we were already in a pretty bad position financially. This was the moment when we thought we might not survive as a company. We considered filing for bankruptcy, but because we believed so much in the festival and wanted to protect our employees during covid-19, we didn’t fire them until October 2021. We did shrink our expenses by canceling some rentals and minimizing costs as much as we could. Instead of declaring bankruptcy at that time, we took a private loan to be able to survive as a company and to slowly return requested refunds. Even though we didn’t receive any significant state aid and we legally didn’t have to, we promised to refund tickets to those who didn’t want to roll them over to the 2022 edition. We felt this was the right decision and that our visitors deserved such treatment for their loyalty to the festival. Maybe we should have known that we were walking on thin ice.

When we returned after Covid-19, subsequent lockdowns and an economic downturn made it impossible to organize the festival without unexpected expenses. By 2022, all production costs had risen (in some cases by 300%), but we were sold out with ticket prices too low that were calculated before March 2020. The green light for the festival season came really late in 2022. At that time, we had already used all the loan funds for refunds and to keep the business alive. Without a ticket price increase and with all the unexpected price rises, we kept pushing back the refunds, creating a bad vibe going into an already sensitive festival edition. Plans to move to a new venue, a significant event in MetalDays' history, were destroyed by Covid-19. Consequently, we had no choice but to organize one last edition of the festival in Tolmin in 2022. Without Covid-19, we would have already transitioned to the new location. This move had been carefully planned years in advance, anticipating that a bypass road would split the venue, leaving no space for 12,000 visitors. However, tickets for the Tolmin event were sold in 2019, forcing us to host the festival at a construction site. This not only increased costs but also limited our ability to sell additional tickets at a reasonable price in 2022. Being held on the construction site without enough entries and impossible to secure, the venue capacity was "only" 7,000 visitors. Managing this was a logistical nightmare that resulted in significant production expenses and visitors' dissatisfaction. Despite being sold out with 7,000 visitors, the least we had since 2013, we didn’t break even in 2022. 

The pre-sale for 2023 was good, even though we didn’t announce the new venue, and with that money, we were able to cover all expenses from 2022, However, we were not able to pay back the refunds. Could we have known this in advance and should we have declared bankruptcy before the 2022 edition? Probably. Now that sounds like the right decision. At the time, it didn't seem like an option at all. We were too proud and too naive.

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