Turning an EDM conglomerate into a one-stop shop for global youth culture
In 2013, Robert F.X. Sillerman closed pivotal deals that made his revived SFX not only the world’s most powerful EDM conglomerate but also a one-stop shop for global youth culture, including festivals, nightclubs, music websites and a social media agency. He took the company public in October, raising $260 million. He announced InBev as SFX’s first international media partner in December, and a partnership with Clear Channel in January that will give recently acquired Beatport a top 20 countdown show alongside Ryan Seacrest.
That’s a banner year for a project that started in June 2012 through a handshake with a single Midwest promoter, “Disco Donnie” Estopinal. But none of those moments are what Sillerman identifies as his highlight of 2013.
“It’s somewhat strange,” he says. “I love to dance and I also love words, and as a reader I was almost judgmental about dance music. Although I always understood its appeal—voting with my time and my pocketbook—I was actually very surprised to find myself listening to it for personal reasons, and enjoying it.”
The devoted fan of disco and Elvis Presley getting into dubstep may seem amusing (or a good idea for a viral YouTube clip), but there’s nothing funny about -Sillerman’s vision, or his fearlessness in acting on it. He’s spent nearly half a billion dollars buying up formerly competitive EDM entities and tying them up in a nice bow for both sponsors and patrons. His first go at this type of arrangement, with rock promoters and venues in the ’90s, birthed the company that is now one of SFX’s biggest competitors—Live Nation—and a fierce one at that, which is probably just the way Sillerman likes it.