Live Nation has acquired Gary Richards' HARD Events, the EDM production company behind such music festivals as the multi-date HARD Festivals and Holy Ship! cruise.
The sale marks Live Nation's second foray into the EDM space in as many months, following on its purchase of global concert promoter Cream Holdings LTD in May, which owns and operates the Creamfield Festivals. As part of that deal, Cream founder/CEO James Barton was brought into the Live Nation executive fold, becoming the company's first ever president of Live Nation Electronic Music. Richards will report to Barton in the company's new structure.
HARD's biggest evemt is its HARD Summer festival in Los Angeles, which this year will expand to two days August 3 and 4 and features headliners Skrillex, Bloc Party, Chromeo, James Murphy, and Miike Snow, among others. Last year it drew over 30,000 people to its single-day show, and Richards plans to branch out into more cities this year, a trend he will be looking to continue through this new venture under the Live Nation umbrella.
"I have known James Barton over the years and respect what he has built with the Cream brand," said Richards in a statement. "We look forward to working hand in hand with James and developing many opportunities to grow the electronic music platform on a global level."
Live Nation is not the only large corporation eyeing up the EDM business, as billionaire Robert F. X. Sillerman -- who helped consolidate regional concert promoters into what eventually became Live Nation in the 1990s -- has stated his intent to return to the live music industry and focus on the EDM genre. He recently purchased Donnie Estopinal's Donnie Disco Presents, which Estopinal defended at the EDMBiz Conference in Las Vegas two weeks ago, saying "as long as you don't lose creative control, it's going to give me more to do bigger and better things."
That is the idea that Richards seems to be operating under, as he remains head of HARD Events and looks to expand the brand internationally. Live Nation, in the press release announcing the acquisition, seemed similarly dedicated to helping Richards expand the HARD brand.
"Live Nation is committed to empowering the electronic dance space with resources and a network of some of the best talent in the industry," said Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino . We welcome Gary Richards and his team, and look forward to helping him continue to expand the reach of this dynamic genre for fans and artists alike."
At EDMBiz, Rapino delivered a keynote Q&A with Billboard's Kerri Mason, during which he outlined Live Nation's strategy in the EDM space, saying it was "acquire or hire. We want to acquire some great brands, if they're available, to build credibility within our own portfolio."