SFX Entertainment Founder Robert Sillerman Dead At 71

Robert Sillerman
– Robert Sillerman
Robert F.X. Sillerman, who greatly shaped the landscape of the modern concert industry, has died at the age of 71, Pollstar has confirmed. 

The news of Sillerman’s death was first reported by Billboard

Commonly referred to as the “roll-up king,” Sillerman led his SFX Entertainment into a buying spree of the United States’ notoriously fragmented and independently operated concert promotions companies in a wave of consolidation that accelerated the transformation of concert promotion at the global level. Independent regional mainstays starting with Delsener/Slater Enterprises and Sunshine Promotions, and including heritage promoters like Bill Graham Presents, Cellar Door Concerts, Avalon Attractions, The Next Adventure became one under Sillerman, who sold SFX Entertainment to Clear Channel Communications in 2000 for a reported price of $4.4 billion.

That entity became what is now known as Live Nation, which today is valued at just under $15 billion on Wall Street and has vertically integrated most notably with the 2010 merger of Ticketmaster. 

After SFX, Sillerman became involved with entertainment company CKX , Inc., and restarted SFX Entertainment, which rebranded as LiveStyle after a dramatic bankruptcy
Earlier this year Sillerman settled with the SEC for $179,000 on fraud charges for his work with Function (X).

Robert Sillerman, born April 12, 1948 in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, early on had a strong entrepreneurial bent starting a greeting card in high school and a youth marketing company while at Brandeis University.  It may come as little surprise the sold that company to a larger advertising firm and started another after graduation. By the late 1970s he was buying radio stations with famed New York DJ Bruce “Cousin Brucie” Morrow. In 1992 Sillerman, with Steven Hicks launched SFX Broadcasting which went public in 1993. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 which had deregulated the industry allowed Sillerman to wheel and deal in the broadcasting business.

In 1996 Sillerman picked up his first live music promoter company in New York based Delsener/Slater Enterprises which was then thought of as a compliment to his radio holdings. But by 1997 SFX went deeper into the live business rolling-up regional promoters with the acquisition of the more diversified Sunshine Promotions for $64 million as well as Hartford Connecticut’s Meadows Music Theatre for $32 million. Sillerman launched SFX Concerts and continued rolling-up promoters with Alex Cooley’s Atlanta-based  Concerts/Southern Promotions for $17 million. By the end of 1997 SFX had acquired St. Louis-based Contemporary Productions for $91 million, Bill Graham Presents for $65 million, Network Magazine Group/SJS for $70 million and Pace Concerts for $130 million.

SFX went public April of that year. By August 1998 Sillerman had nabbed Boston’s Don Law Presents ($71 million), Cellar Door ($106 million) and Avalon Ent. ($27 million) and the next year picked up Michael Cohl’s The Next Adventure for an undisclosed amount.  By 1999 the company had spent more than $2 billion and owned or operated 120 venues. By Feb.  2000 Sillerman had sold to Clear Channel Communications for $4.4 billion and the live concert business would never again be the same.