A look at the newest (and possibly next) big buys for Sillerman's growing EDM empire.
There's no shortage of independent companies in EDM: For the self-sufficient industry, they're the rule, not the exception. Now, Robert F.X. Sillerman expects to buy at least 50 of them. The media mogul's road map includes everything from content companies to venues to promoters, mirroring the varied composition of his first live-entertainment venture, SFX Entertainment -- which became Live Nation after he sold it to Clear Channel. Here, Billboard profiles the two purchases he's already announced, and speculates on the acquisitions to come.
Disco Donnie Presents
Principal: James "Disco Donnie" Estopinal Jr.
Acquisition Announced:June 5
Longtime promoter Estopinal linked up with Insomniac Events in 2008, marrying his upwards of 50 monthly nightclub events across Oregon, Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere with the Electric Daisy Carnival promoter's destination festivals. But the partnership fell apart acrimoniously late last year, and Estopinal packed up his toys and signed on with Sillerman. The respected, well-connected EDM warrior is now introducing Sillerman around the industry and making recommendations as to his next acquisitions.
Live in Color
Principals: Paul Campbell, Sebastian
Solano, Lukasz Tracz, Patryk Tracz
Acquisition Announced: Aug. 2
Known as Dayglow Productions until Aug. 27, the promotion company is still "the world's largest paint party," according to its tag line. "Did you ever see the movie 'Animal House'?" Sillerman asks. "The food fight? A paint party is today's version of that." Live in Color events feature A-list DJs like Diplo and Steve Aoki providing the soundtrack, while thousands of coeds get splattered, Nickelodeon-style, in neon paint. But the events, frequently held on college campuses, are becoming known for more than just the spectacle: After attending a show in Hartford, Conn., that sent 40 to the emergency room, Danbury Hospital director of emergency services Matthew Cassavechia deemed it a "patient-producing event," and instituted special preparations prior to an April 27 show at Western Connecticut State University that ended in more than 30 hospital visits.
Pacha New York & RPM
Principals: Eddie Dean, Rob Fernandez
Odds of Acquisition: 4:1
New York used to have a slew of super-clubs; now it has one. The 30,000-square-foot Pacha New York was founded by two Big Apple nightlife veterans, giving it local appeal beyond its European lineage. (Pacha is a nightclub franchise overseas with 18 locations; New York is its only North American venue.) While the Pacha brand isn't Dean and Fernandez's to sell, they do have the venue itself, as well as RPM, their production company, which hosts local festival-like events at locations including Governors Island and Central Park SummerStage and co-produced Electric Daisy Carnival's first New York visit this year.
Principal: Pasquale Rotella
Odds of Acquisition: 5:1
Insomniac is the engine behind the most visible proof of EDM's explosive popularity, the 300,000-person Electric Daisy Carnival. Rotella was outspoken about his desire to remain independent at EDMBiz, the industry conference he founded, but admitted to taking meetings with Live Nation. "I would do a deal if it didn't compromise fan experience and productions," he says. Live Nation might balk at a production bill that nearly put the sold-out EDC in the red, but would Sillerman? "Pasquale is a genius," Sillerman says. "The fact that he puts something there, and not there, is not something that you can write down or tell."
Principals: Senthil Chidambaram,
Odds of Acquisition: 8:1
The voice of the EDM generation, super-blog Dancing Astronaut was founded by college students bitten by the bug just as the genre was starting to grow. With digital natives at the helm, the site pumps out content at breakneck speed -- from track, concert and podcast reviews to breaking news and event announcements -- in a "for us, by us" style that resonates with EDM's young fan base. Should Sillerman want a fledgling content company with a strong, recognizable brand already in place, DA's the stuff. But concerns about credibility could keep it indie.
Principals: Julia Hartz, Kevin Hartz, Renaud Visage
Odds of Acquisition: 10:1
The online ticketing service mostly hosts general-admission fund-raisers and book readings, but that's about to change: It became the official ticketing platform for Disco Donnie Presents' 1,000-plus annual EDM events in July. With former Ticketmaster president/CEO Sean Moriarty on its board, and a model that's more straightforward and affordable than the ticketing giant's, it's primed to make a run at the concert business. But with $78 million in venture capitalist funding, it might be comfortable on its own -- for now.
Principal: Patrick Moxey
Odds of Acquisition: 25:1
Before Aug. 10, the diversified Ultra would've been a prime Sillerman target, with its roster of important artists that includes Deadmau5, a catalog of music content, an in-house licensing team and a giant YouTube channel. But by linking up with Ultra Music Festival (which had always been a separate entity), Ultra entered the event business in its own way. However, some might say that by unifying, the companies are an even more attractive acquisition.