Robert Sillerman on Rock In Rio Deal (Exclusive)

Clearly, SFX's festival buying spree is far from over. Last week the growing entertainment conglomerate announced it had finalized its purchase of German promoter i-Motion for some $21 million in cash and stock.  Then last Friday (Nov. 22), SFX Ent. announced it had signed an option agreement to acquire a 50 percent interest in a newly formed entity which will own the assets and operation of Rock in Rio, a festival franchise, No dollar amount was disclosed.

Started in 1985 by entrepreneur Roberto Medina, the festival, known primarily for its rock music in Rio de Janeiro, has been staged 13 times over 28 years in Madrid and Lisbon in addition to Rio to more than 7 million people. Past events have featured such marquee acts as Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, Iron Maiden and David Guetta.  

The new partnership will bring Rock in Rio to the United States for the first time in 2015.

The news comes just as SFX released its first earnings report following its IPO. According to its third quarter numbers, SFX posted a net loss of $28.6 million on revenue of $48.7 million and is considered still something of a work in progress as its acquisitions spree continues.

SFX growing portfolio now includes such events as Tomorrowland, TomorrowWorld, Mysteryland, Sensation, Stereosonic, Electric Zoo, Disco Donnie Presents, Life in Color, Nature One, Mayday and Ruhr-in-Love. The company also owns digital platform Beatport among other properties.

Billboard caught up with Sillerman following the Rock in Rio announcement.

Billboard: How did the Rock in Rio deal work?
Robert Sillerman: It’s pretty straight-forward: We’re going to acqure a 50% interest in all of the businesses and the Rock in Rio brand and most of the festivals are 100% owned, though some have other partners. We are 50-50 partners with Roberto Medina and his family and its just as exciting as can be.
 
How much of a dance music aspect do the Rock in Rio fests currently have?
Well, not much at the moment, presently as its name Rock and Rio implies, although they have begun to incorporate electronic music and have in fact incorporated a separate stage this year for the first time. Like everyone else in the world as electronic music is expanding and gaining importance and prevalence, I’m sure it will play a greater role.
 
Can you say how much SFX invested?
Not yet, we will release that

You just had your first earnings report, were you happy with the outcome?
Oh sure. Obviously whenever one is consolidating and putting disparate elements together there is a level of the unknown, but we’ve hit 90-95% of our goals and that’s pretty damn good in this day and age.
 
Does Rock in Rio give you more of a global foothold with events in Brazil, Spain and Portugal?
We have Sensation, which is an ID&T brand, that plays is in those markets and in Brazil is very successfully for a while. But there’s nothing on the planet like Rock in Rio. 

With Rock In Rio and the purchase of i-Motion last week for $21 million, are you back in full acquisition mode?
Save space because we’re just getting started. 
 
Have you been to Rock in Rio?
Yes, but I was not there this year, but it's just unbelievable.