Live Na­tion ac­quires ma­jor stake in Bon­na­roo fes­ti­val

The deal is part of a trend of con­sol­i­da­tion in the live mu­sic events in­dus­try.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By Ryan Faugh­n­der ryan.faugh­n­der@la­times.com

Con­cert gi­ant Live Na­tion En­ter­tain­ment said it had bought a con­trol­ling stake in the Bon­na­roo Mu­sic and Arts Fes­ti­val, adding an­other ma­jor event to its port­fo­lio that in­cludes 60 fes­ti­vals around the world.

Bon­na­roo, the Manch­ester, Tenn., mu­sic event that at­tracts more than 80,000 at­ten­dees a year, was founded in 2002 by pro­mot­ers Su­per­fly and AC En­ter­tain­ment, which will con­tinue to run the fes­ti­val’s day-to-day op­er­a­tions.

Fi­nan­cial terms were not dis­closed, but ex­ec­u­tives at Su­per­fly and AC En­ter­tain­ment called the deal a “mile­stone” for the fes­ti­val and said the part­ner­ship opens up op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­tinue grow­ing.

Su­per­fly co-founder Rick Far­man, in a state­ment, said the pact would al­low them to “en­hance the fes­ti­val while pre­serv­ing the in­tegrity of the event that we’ve thought­fully built over the past 14 years.”

Bon­na­roo is known for its eclec­tic lineup of acts in­clud­ing es­tab­lished head­lin­ers and emerg­ing indie rock bands, rap­pers and DJs. This year’s Bon­na­roo fes­ti­val, tak­ing place June 11-14, fea­tures artists in­clud­ing Billy Joel, Ken­drick La­mar, Dead­mau5 and Mum­ford & Sons.

The agree­ment fur­ther il­lus­trates an on­go­ing trend of con­sol­i­da­tion in the live mu­sic events in­dus­try.

Live Na­tion, based in Bev­erly Hills, last year took a ma­jor­ity stake in C3 Presents, the com­pany be­hind the Austin City Lim­its Mu­sic Fes­ti­val and Lol­la­palooza.

In 2013, the com­pany bought a stake in the pro­moter be­hind the rave fes­ti­val Elec­tric Daisy Car­ni­val.

“There re­ally aren’t that many truly in­de­pen­dent fes­ti­vals left,” said Poll­star edi­tor Gary Bon­gio­vanni.

Live Na­tion paid an es­ti­mated $125 mil­lion for C3 Presents and $50 mil­lion for its in­ter­est in In­som­niac Events, the com­pany be­hind Elec­tric Daisy Car­ni­val.

Through its deal with Su­per­fly and AC En­ter­tain­ment, Live Na­tion also took an un­spec­i­fied share of the Bon­na­roo prop­erty, Great Stage Park, also known as “the Farm,” the com­pa­nies said.

“We con­tinue to ex­pand the in­dus­try’s most un­par­al­leled and scal­able fes­ti­val plat­form all while driv­ing strong rev­enue and growth for Live Na­tion on a global ba­sis,” Live Na­tion Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Michael Rapino said in a state­ment. “Bon­na­roo is an­other crown jewel in this fes­ti­val chan­nel strat­egy, one that ap­peals to both fans and artists in unique­ness and ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The Bon­na­roo deal comes amid the start of the sum­mer mu­sic fes­ti­val sea­son. The Coachella Val­ley Mu­sic and Arts An­nual Fes­ti­val, held this month in In­dio, Calif., over two week­ends, draws hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple each year.

Coachella is run by Gold­en­voice, a di­vi­sion of Live Na­tion com­peti­tor AEG.

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