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US corporate interest

Corporate consolidation in the EDM industry began in 2012—especially in terms of live events. In June 2012, media executive Robert F. X. Sillerman—founder of what is now Live Nation—re-launched SFX Entertainment as an EDM conglomerate, and announced his plan to invest $1 billion to acquire EDM businesses. His acquisitions included regional promoters and festivals (including ID&T, which organises Tomorrowland), two nightclub operators in Miami, and Beatport, an online music store which focuses on electronic music.[135][136] Live Nation also acquired Cream Holdings and Hard Events, and announced a “creative partnership” with EDC organizers Insomniac Events in 2013 that would allow it to access its resources whilst remaining an independent company;[137] Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino described EDM as the “[new] rock ‘n’ roll“.[116][138][139]

US radio conglomerate iHeartMedia, Inc. (formerly Clear Channel Media and Entertainment) also made efforts to align itself with EDM. In January 2014 It hired noted British DJ and BBC Radio 1 personality Pete Tong to produce programming for its “Evolution” dance radio brand,[140] and announced a partnership with SFX to co-produce live concerts and EDM-oriented original programming for its top 40 radio stations. iHeartMedia president John Sykes explained that he wanted his company’s properties to be the “best destination [for EDM]”.[141][142]

Major brands have also used the EDM phenomena as a means of targeting millennials[143][144][145][146] and EDM songs and artists have increasingly been featured in television commercials and programs.[147] Avicii’s manager Ash Pournouri compared these practices to the commercialization of hip-hop in the early 2000s.[147] Heineken has a marketing relationship with the Ultra Music Festival, and has incorporated Dutch producers Armin van Buuren and Tiësto into its ad campaigns. Anheuser-Busch has a similar relationship as beer sponsor of SFX Entertainment events.[147] In 2014, 7 Up launched “7x7Up”—a multi-platform EDM-based campaign that included digital content, advertising featuring producers, and branded stages at both Ultra and Electric Daisy Carnival.[143][148][149] Wireless carrier T-Mobile US entered into an agreement with SFX to become the official wireless sponsor of its events, and partnered with Above & Beyond to sponsor its 2015 tour.[144]

In August 2015, SFX began to experience declines in its value,[150] and a failed bid by CEO Sillerman to take the company private. The company began looking into strategic alternatives that could have resulted in the sale of the company.[151][152] In October 2015, Forbes declared the possibility of an EDM “bubble“, in the wake of the declines at SFX Entertainment, slowing growth in revenue, the increasing costs of organizing festivals and booking talent, as well as an oversaturation of festivals in the eastern and western United States. Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella felt that the industry would weather the financial uncertainty of the overall market by focusing on “innovation” and entering into new markets.[153] Despite forecasts that interest in popular EDM would wane, in 2015 it was estimated to be a £5.5bn industry in the US, up by 60% compared to 2012 estimates.[154]

SFX emerged from bankruptcy in December 2016 as LiveStyle, under the leadership of Randy Phillips, a former executive of AEG Live.[155][156] The company began to slowly divest its live music assets in 2018, including selling its stakes in Rock in Rio (which it had bought as part of an attempted Las Vegas edition of the festival),[157][158] and later other SFX-owned promoters such as ID&T[159][160] and React Presents.[161] Phillips stepped down as CEO in 2019 to pursue other projects.[162]

 

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