Knitting Buys Bravo

Knitting Factory Entertainment has purchased a majority stake in Bravo Entertainment in an effort to promote in flyover country.

Knitting Factory, which has established its brand on the East and West coasts, hopes to use the acquisition to drive emerging artists into the Midwest.

Paul and Creston Thornton’s Bravo operates in 19 states and owns the The Big Easy Concert House in its home base of Boise, Idaho, and a likewise-named facility in Spokane, Wash. With the agreement, Knitting Factory hopes to build two new venues a year in the Heartland.

“The conversations are under way and we expect to make announcements during the first quarter as to the new locations that will begin construction this year,” Knitting Factory CEO Jared Hoffman told Pollstar.

“We’ve been searching for a way to extend our presence deeper into America, effectively bringing more alternative, emerging music to more audiences. We discovered that dovetailed perfectly with what Paul Thornton has been growing with Bravo Entertainment,” Hoffman said. “Here is a strong touring concert operator who discovered how underserved the market is outside of the largest urban areas.”

Artists that have established themselves on the Left and Right coasts – Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens for example – are still underserved in the middle of the country, Hoffman said. An aggressive approach to the market could build the artist’s profile as well as turn a profit.

“Even if you have to package up groups of two or three artists, we know by watching the online communities such as MySpace and the popularity of sites like Pitchfork that the pull for music in the heartland is fantastic. Kids nationwide are discovering new artists faster than ever before,” he said. “The hunger is there; they just don’t have the opportunity to see these artists.”

The strategy could be a lot of fun for new music fans in the Midwest: An artist that is established on the coasts may need support from two other relatively established acts to fill a 1,500-capacity club, Hoffman said.

The purchase price was undisclosed, but combined revenues for the companies will be more than $22 million, a Knitting Factory spokeswoman said.

– Joe Reinartz