SFX Returns – To Dance

Robert F.X. Sillerman, the media exec who rolled up concert promoters into a behemoth that eventually became Live Nation, is back – but this time he’s investing in electronic dance music and the companies that stage EDM events. And it could pit him against the company he spawned.

Sillerman is looking to acquire independent companies that throw EDM festivals, DJ parties and other events, according to the New York Times. He told the paper he is in negotiations with “up to 50” such companies and has tentative agreements with about 15 of them. He’s already made his first acquisition, Disco Productions in Louisiana.

And if that isn’t enough déjà vu, Sillerman’s new company is called SFX Entertainment and he says he intends to spend $1 billion on acquisitions within a year. He spent $1.2 billion to buy up on national concert promoters in the late 1990s. He sold them to Clear Channel Communications for $4.4 billion in 2000. The now publicly traded Live Nation’s current valuation is $1.7 billion.

The only deviation from his previous path appears to be that rather than sell a rolled-up EDM business, he says he hopes to take the revived SFX Entertainment public this summer.

Sillerman told the Times he’s still hammering out the plan for the new SFX, but it will involve using the Internet to connect EDM fans and, no doubt, to connect those fans to advertisers.

“There’s a wave of interest in attending concerts that have less to do with the specific music and more to do with the experience attached to the music,” he told the Times. “Our thought is that the experience of attending an individual event can be perpetuated and made better by connecting the people, not just when they’re consuming the entertainment but when they’re away from it.”

Which brings us back to Live Nation.

The company has been making its own forays into the EDM universe, most recently with its acquisition of UK’s Cream Holdings, the producer of possibly the granddaddy of British dance festivals, Creamfields. It’s also announced a handful of EDM festivals in the U.S. including a two-night Sensations event in New York City.

Does Sillerman’s interest portend the corporatization of notoriously independent EDM, or will it become a Godzilla vs. Mothra style battle for Wall Street supremacy? So far, Sillerman suggests he’s willing to give EDM producers some latitude.

“I’m confident we’ll do an excellent job empowering these kids to be as good as they can be,” Sillerman told the Times. “I’m also confident that we will create a better experience for the fans. Can we monetize that? If we can, this will dwarf the first SFX. That’s the whole game.”