The 5 VIP Festival Promoters Behind Coachella, Bonnarroo, Lollapalooza & More

The Ferris wheel is seen during day 1 of the 2014 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival
Matt Cowan/Getty Images for Coachella

The Ferris wheel is seen during day 1 of the 2014 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 11, 2014 in Indio, California. 

Behind every star-packed lineup and muddy campground is a powerful live-music impresario. Check out 5 of the most important festival promoters in the business.

Paul Tollett, 47
President/CEO, Goldenvoice
Though its future hung in the balance in its early years, the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., parlayed its one-of-a-kind setting and Tollett's ambitious talent booking to become the premier festival in North America, grossing $78.3 million in 2014, according to Billboard Boxscore. Meanwhile, Goldenvoice's Stagecoach may be the most important country festival west of the Mississippi.

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From left: Charles Attal, 47; Charlie Walker, 43; Charlie Jones, 45
Partners, C3 Presents
By creating the Austin City Limits Music Festival and resurrecting Lollapalooza, the three Charlies built their Austin-based company C3 Presents into the top independent promoter in the United States. The payoff? Live Nation, the world's largest promoter, acquired 51 percent of C3 in 2014 for a reported $125 million, making LN the dominant player in the American festival business.

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Brian O'Connell, 49
President, Live Nation Country
Country is the fastest-growing genre for festivals, and O'Connell is the most aggressive player in the sector. On a mission to create 10 country festivals in 10 years, O'Connell is ahead of the pace: Watershed in George, Wash.; Faster Horses in Brooklyn, Mich.; and Rt. 91 Harvest in Las Vegas are already established, and three new festivals launch this year.

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Robert Sillerman, 70
Chairman/CEO, SFX Entertainment
Best-known as the man who led the massive promoter roll-up into what is now Live Nation, Sillerman has become a force in the EDM business with his follow-up, SFX Entertainment. The company now controls more than 77 branded festivals and events, including Tomorrowland, Electric Zoo, Decibel and React Presents, which, combined, sold more than 4 million tickets in 2014.

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From left: Jonathan Mayers, 41; Rick Farman, 38; Rich Goodstone, 41; Kerry Black, 40
Partners, Superfly
When the first Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival sold out in days in 2002, few had heard of its New Orleans-based independent promoter, Superfly. Now based in New York, with offices in Chicago and San Francisco, the multifaceted marketing and event production company also operates the Outside Lands festival (with Another Planet Entertainment) in San Francisco.

This story originally appeared in the April 4th issue of Billboard.


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