It appears that 2019 was the last year on the Farm in Manchester, Tenn. for Bonnaroo co-founder Rick Farman with Superfly Entertainment.
Live Nation purchased a controlling interest in the festival in 2015 and has told minority owners in Bonnaroo that it plans to exercise a buyout clause in the agreement to purchase the rest of the festival, Billboard has learned. The transaction will take place before next year’s festival and effectively ends Superfly’s role as festival producer, although a limited role for Superfly at the festivsal is being considered. Going forward, Bonnaroo will be produced by co-founder AC Entertainment and C3 Presents, which Live Nation purchased in 2014.
“We built this business on partnerships, and having a company like Live Nation come to the table and want to be part of that partnership in the way that they are here, and making the commitment to taking Bonnaroo to the next level, is an extremely gratifying, humbling validation of the hard work,” that has gone into the event since it was first launched in 2002, Farman told Billboard in a 2015 interview.
A year after purchasing a controlling stake in the event, Live Nation bought a majority share of festival co-founder Ashley Capps Entertainment. As part of the 2015 agreement, Superfly and AC Entertainment were retained as operators, and a number of improvements were planned for the Great Park Stage site, also known as the Farm, which organizers purchased in 2007.
“Through this partnership with Live Nation, we’re even more empowered to enhance the festival while preserving the integrity of the event that we’ve thoughtfully built over the past 14 years,” Farman said in a release after the sale.
Considered one of the most important and well known festivals in North America, Bonnaroo came on the scene three years after Goldenvoice launched Coachella in Southern California in 1999, and the same that C3 Presents held the first Austin City Limits. Conceived as an annual gathering for jam bands, the festival has expanded its lineup to include multiple genres. After attendance dipped significantly in 2016, Live Nation booked U2 to play the festival the following year as the only festival stop on their Joshua Tree tour. This past year (June 13-16), the festival was headlined by Phish, Childish Gambino, Post Malone, Odesza, the Lumineers and more.
The multi-day, multi-stage festival has had as many as 80,000 daily attendees, but usually hovers around 60,000.
Superfly had been hired to produce this year’s Woodstock 50 event in Glen Watkins, New York but pulled out of the annniversay event over long-standing disagreements about the site’s capacity. In 2018, its Phoenix festival Lost Lakes was canceled and in January, the company announced it was not bringing back Denver’s Grandoozy festival. Superfly also co-produces Outside Lands in San Francisco with Another Planet.
Billboard reached out to a representative for Farman and Superfly for this story and did not receive a response by press time. We will update this story if that changes.