Rock stars have few hit records Wall Street, and the mar­ket is now down­beat on EDM

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC - JIM CAR­ROLL

SFX’s share price has fluc­tu­ated from a dizzy high of $13 on launch day to a rather more hum­ble low of $3.13 last month

The stock ex­change is al­ways a weird place for mu­si­cians to find them­selves. Over the years, some acts have gone head-to-head with the bulls and the bears, but it’s never quite cre­ated har­mo­nious sounds all round.

In 1997, David Bowie earned $55 mil­lion sell­ing se­cu­ri­ti­sa­tion bonds to pun­ters, who then hoped to re­coup their in­vest­ment from a share of the fu­ture roy­al­ties earned by such clas­sics as Space Odd­ity,

He­roes and Changes. He was fol­lowed into that mar­ket by Ash­ford & Simp­son (who earned $25 mil­lion), James Brown ($30 mil­lion), Joan Jett (can you name any song be­sides I Love Rock’n’

Roll?), Iron Maiden ($30 mil­lion), Dusty Spring­field ($10 mil­lion) and oth­ers.

A good pay­day for the acts, but the pun­ters who bought those bonds didn’t have as much luck. A few years af­ter the Bowie bonds were is­sued, for ex­am­ple, Moody’s down­graded their value and de­scribed them as “low qual­ity spec­u­la­tive junk bonds, highly spec­u­la­tive in their abil­ity to meet in­ter­est and prin­ci­pal obligations”.

It’s not just her­itage acts like Bowie who’ve got into bed with Wall Street. SFX En­ter­tain­ment is a dance mu­sic gi­ant, a com­pany that has been living high on the hog on the back of the cur­rent EDM boom with events and fes­ti­vals such as To­mor­row­land, Elec­tric Zoo, Rock In Rio and other popular blue-chip brands.

It’s led by Bob Sillerman, the colour­ful pro­moter and mu­sic busi­ness en­tre­pre­neur who founded ra­dio and live mu­sic en­tity Clear Chan­nel, which went on to be­come Live Na­tion. Since SFX went public in Oc­to­ber 2013, the com­pany’s share price has fluc­tu­ated from a dizzy high of $13 on launch day (with Afro­jack ring­ing the open­ing bell at the Nas­daq) to a more hum­ble low of $3.13 last month.

Now comes news that Sillerman wants to take the com­pany pri­vate again and is will­ing to pay $4.75 a share to do so. That’s a de­cent profit for any­one who bought the shares at their cur­rent low, but there are many in­vestors who’ll be nurs­ing losses at that price point and who may feel the founder is look­ing to get his com­pany back on the cheap.

While SFX is loss-mak­ing, it does have healthy an­nual rev­enues and its events at­tract spon­sors and brands keen to tar­get hard-to-reach mil­len­ni­als. Some ob­servers be­lieve in­ter­nal man­age­ment changes are re­quired to steady the ship and get it rolling again.

Oth­ers, though, ques­tion the long-term viability of SFX. A brief­ing note from one an­a­lyst talked about EDM be­ing “a fad” in decline, with “high-pro­file deaths and in­juries due to il­licit drug use” ham­per­ing growth and in­creased com­pe­ti­tion caus­ing over­sup­ply.

It makes you won­der just why Sillerman wants the thing back.

Ken­drick La­mar To Pimp A But­ter­fly

In which Ken­drick La­mar (above) walks off to look for black Amer­ica. The Comp­ton rap­per’s new al­bum is a deep, fierce, an­gry protest about the state of his na­tion, all set against a soundbed where a new take on jazz and funk are the pri­mary colours. An al­bum very much of its time.


Shan­non­side B-girls, this is for you. Ahead of this year’s Make A Move com­mu­nity hip-hop fes­ti­val in Lim­er­ick, hip-hop ac­tivist Amy True will be host­ing a girls-only work­shop in rap­ping, DJing and hip-hop danc­ing at the Learn­ing Hub from March 31st to April 2nd. Email learn­inghublim­er­ick@gmail.com.


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