Live Nation Entertainment buys controlling stake in Bonnaroo festival

Attendees enter through the arch during Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn.
Attendees enter through the arch during Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn.
(Adam Lau / Associated Press)

Concert giant Live Nation Entertainment says it has 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., indie music event that attracts more than 80,000 attendees a year, was founded in 2002 by the promoters Superfly and AC Entertainment, which will continue to run the festival’s day-to-day operations.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but executives for 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 will 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,” said Live Nation Chief Executive Michael Rapino, 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’s competitor AEG.

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