During a panel at his own EDM Biz conference, Insomniac Events’ CEO Pasquale Rotella casually confirmed what his long been rumored: His company will formally partner with Live Nation. Described as a “creative partnership,” the venture will allow Live Nation to access the festival brand's loyal and fast-growing fanbase, while providing the promoter the benefit of Live Nation’s infrastructure and capital.
Though no official numbers were given, a source with knowledge of the negotiations estimated the deal to be worth some $80 million. A Wall Street Journal article from last month, however, put the deal closer to $50 million dollars in return for a nearly 50% stake in Insomniac.
When reached for comment, Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment, said in an email to Billboard that, "Insomniac is simply the best creator of electronic experiences in the world. We look forward to helping bring Paquale's innovative vision to more fans around the globe."
The announcement came during the Q&A portion of a panel discussion about the future of EDM festivals (that Rotella largely dominated) in response to a question about whether festival promoters can remain independent in a market with increased interest from corporate sponsors. Rotella’s response caught many off guard, but was immediately followed by a prepared statement, posted on the Insomniac website and disseminated via Twitter and Instagram, confirming that this was a planned announcement. Rotella and Insomniac, which produces the popular Electric Daisy Carnival series, are promising fans that despite the new arrangement with Live Nation, the experience for festival attendees will remain the same.
Despite partnering with one of the largest entertainment companies in the word, Rotella says his brand is one that remains committed to the consumer experience. “We do turn sponsors down a lot,” Rotella told the audience during the panel. “[While] it’s not something they're consciously aware of - in [people’s] minds, the chemistry changes a little bit when they're being sold stuff.”
“I don’t feel good about someone presenting the stage and their logo being at the top,” he continued. “People are sold stuff every day. I want for our events to be where people can feel a little free. But we do have some sponsors.”
Moments earlier, during the panel discussion, Rotella described his company’s role in the EDM space as one based on longevity and loyalty. “There are a lot of people just jumping into this industry who aren’t going to be here in five years,” he said.
Details of the partnership remain vague, but Rotella was adamant in his written statement that his company has not been acquired by Live Nation, implying that this was more of a investment deal, as had been rumored. He also said the partnership did not necessarily mean his events would be held at Live Nation venues or use Live Nation’s ticketing partner Ticketmaster.
These points speaks to Rotella’s expressed interest in remaining an active part of the brand and business he’s built over the last twenty years. In his written statement he said his choice of partner was a decision he made “with my heart to expand our dreams.”
“You can’t turn things down that are life changing,” Rotella said during the panel, alluding to the deal he was about to announce. “We’re longterm; we’re always about investing and building.”