Sold half his business to the world’s largest live entertainment player to help open new EDM markets
No one person is more emblematic of EDM’s speedy, bumpy rise than Pasquale Rotella.
After an extended courtship with several suitors, the founder/CEO of Insomniac Events sold the company to Live Nation this year (reportedly 50% of the business for $50 million), becoming the linchpin of its dance music strategy—and guardian of its now-biggest event franchise in any genre, Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC).
“It’s working great. We really have their support as partners and investors,” he says of Live Nation. “Every day we find more resources they have that can help strengthen our company. We don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything that we want."
The 39-year-old started as a rave promoter, throwing parties in Los Angeles warehouses with an emphasis on décor and fantasy rather than chin-scratching music appreciation. As the subculture mainstreamed and the venues got bigger, he bore the brunt of the growing pains, getting socked with lawsuits and bad press following the 2010 EDC at Los Angeles Coliseum, at which a 15-year-old girl died from a drug overdose. (All Insomniac events went 18-plus after that.)
But that 2010 EDC was also what many consider to be the spark that set off the EDM explosion, attended by 185,000 and establishing Rotella as a visionary with an innate sense of what moved the new American dance fan. This was re-established on an even bigger stage in June 2013, before 300,000 at EDC’s new home at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with a production that trumped previous years and impressed even a visiting Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney (and current venture capitalist). That same week, Rotella announced a deal with Dick Clark Productions to produce EDM’s first awards show and a partnership with Magical Elves to create an EDC documentary, which was selected for the Sundance Film Festival.
Rotella has had much success in his career to date but with the added might of a $4 billion multinational giant like Live Nation behind him, he looks set to take EDM to the even bigger leagues. His transformation from savvy promoter into storied mogul is nearly complete.