Live Nation Buys Australia's Splendour and Falls Festivals

Flume performs at Splendour in the Grass Festival on July 24, 2016 in North Byron Parklands, Australia
Ian Laidlaw

Flume performs at Splendour in the Grass Festival on July 24, 2016 in North Byron Parklands, Australia.

Live Nation is turbo-charging its international festivals portfolio with the acquisition of a controlling stake in Secret Sounds Group, the Australian entertainment company behind the popular Splendour in the Grass and Falls festivals. 

LN has acquired 51% in Secret Sounds, run by entrepreneurs Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco, for an undisclosed sum. 

Splendour in the Grass, a mid-year camping festival in Byron Bay, New South Wales; and Falls, which has events in Byron Bay; Lorne, Victoria; Marion Bay, Tasmania and Fremantle, Western Australia are the first Australian festival brands to join Live Nation, which already boasts more than 80 global fests, from Governors Ball, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Electric Daisy Carnival, Reading, Leeds, Rock Werchter and many more. 

Live Nation quietly launched in Australia in 2010 and retooled with the acquisition of leading local concert promoter Michael Coppel Presents in 2013 (Coppel now runs the live music giant’s activities in Australia and New Zealand).  Earlier this year, LN stepped into the venues space after securing a long-term lease for the famed venue in St Kilda, south Melbourne.

LN’s foray into Australian festivals coincides with a massive shakeup in the market. The once-titanic “big four” Australian touring fests Big Day Out, Soundwave, Future and Stereosonic all imploded in recent years, a situation many active promoters now see as an opportunity. 

"Splendour in the Grass and Falls are the two most iconic festivals in Australia," said Michael Rapino, president and CEO, Live Nation Entertainment, in a statement. "Jess and Paul have created events that attract the biggest artists in the world but still feel uniquely Australian.  We look forward to partnering with them to find new ways to grow our live event footprint across Australia."

Michael Coppel, president and CEO of Live Nation Australia and New Zealand, added, "We wholeheartedly welcome Jess and Paul and their teams into the rapidly growing Live Nation Australia family.  Our new relationship with the Secret Sounds group confirms Live Nation's position at the forefront of the Australian live performance industry."

The giant concerts promoter has been eyeing its entry into the festivals market for some time.  LN had worked on the proposed Movement Festival, a multi-date 2013 hip-hop event headlined by veteran rapper Nas, though the dates were ultimately scrapped just a week out from showtime. 

LN’s latest acquisition includes Secret Sounds' touring, sponsorship, PR, artist management and domestic agency businesses, though excludes the Dew Process and Create Control Record labels, Dew Process Publishing and its interests in the North Byron Parklands festival site and The Triffid venue in Brisbane.

"We started Secret Sounds with the sole mission of introducing Australians to the best artists, events and music possible, and Live Nation is the perfect partner to help us take this goal to the next level. With their support we can continue to curate the lineups that fans love, while also experimenting with new exciting ways for fans to experience live music," Ducrou and Piticco, co-CEO's of Secret Sounds, explained in a joint statement. 

The deal comes a matter of weeks after Ducrou and Piticco brought their respective companies under the single Secret Sounds umbrella.