The 2013 edition of Austin's popular Fun Fun Fun Fest may get an even bigger pirate ship-shaped skate ramp: Stratus Properties, co-owners of Austin's ACL Live at the Moody Theater and the W Austin Hotel, have entered a strategic partnership with Transmission Events, owner of two popular local club venues and producers of the festival.
Held the first weekend in November, Fun Fun Fun has grown steadily in its first seven years, selling 15,000 tickets for its first night in 2012 compared to 12,000 the previous year. Two years ago, the fest moved from small downtown Waterloo Park to Auditorium Shores, hoping to expand over the next several years to fill most of the park's 30,000 capacity. While still dwarfed by the annual Austin City Limits festival's 75,000 visitors, Fun Fun Fun has gathered a die-hard fanbase with a mix of punk, hip-hop, rock and comedy acts, and by successfully reuniting veteran artists such as the Descendents and Run-D.M.C.
No figures from the deal have been disclosed, but Transmission co-owner James Moody says the capitalization of the festival will greatly improve their flexibility and operations. “The way the festival business works, no money changes hands for nine months out of the year, and then there's really intense cash flow for a short period of time, so just having access to resources for that will be huge.” says Moody. “And we've had a lot of ideas but we've been limited. So if we're going to bring back Dio from the dead for the festival, now we have a partner to talk about that with.”
Potentially even more broadly significant will be the effect on up and coming artists who are based in or travel to Austin. Transmission Events owns the Mohawk and Red 7 clubs, and Moody says that the partnership and greater access to the ACL Live venue will help provide “a bit of a career path” to walk artists through. “You do inside at Mohawk, then inside at Red 7, then outside at Red 7, then outside at Mohawk. Then you sell that out and you go to a new place we're now building on East 5th Street, then you go to ACL Live and Fun Fun Fun Fest. In the past we'd end with them when they sell out Mohawk, because there's a giant gap between a 1000-head room and the fest.”
Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater opened in 2011 as both a 2,750-capacity venue and the new studio for PBS's long-running Austin City Limits live music television show. It was developed by Stratus Properties along with the Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund, a partnership between Canyon Capital and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund is not currently a part of the deal with Transmission.