According to Billboard, Live Nation is in the closing stages of purchasing a majority stake of Founder Entertainment, the producing company of New York City’s Governors Ball Festival.
The acquisition is a small piece of an ongoing rivalry between entertainment and events companies Live Nation and AEG Live. Live Nation will now promote New York City’s first, and for years, only rock festival, but AEG has responded with plans for a Randall’s Island festival of its own; their Panorama Festival will take place July 22-24.
While the rivalry between the two companies continue to intensify, it is certainly possible that there is room for both giants as festivals have become the must lucrative sector of the live music industry this decade. Ticket sales for Governor’s Ball have been booming – 2015 brought in about 150,000 and Founder Entertainment co-founder Jordan Wolowitz has stated that this year’s sales were the strongest yet. AEG Live currently claims a stake or ownership in about 30 festivals in North America, including Coachella, Electric Forest, Firefly, Hangout, and JazzFest. Live Nation is largely prominent in the UK and Europe, but has it’s eye on expansion to North America, adding majority stakes in Electric Daisy Carnival, Lollapalooza, ACL Fest, and Bonnaroo. Both have been organizing smaller country festivals, although none have reached the name recognition of their cash cow events.
The acquisition of Founder Entertainment may come as somewhat unexpected, considering its owners were previously uninterested in selling the company. “We’ve shown that, right now, we don’t need to [partner] — yet,” said Wolowitz to Billboard earlier this year. The emergence of Panorama in New York could have influenced Wolowitz’s final decision
Governors Ball 2016 is slated for June 2-4 at Randall’s Island Park. Kanye West, The Strokes, The Killers will serve as headlining acts.
Update: The New York Times has reported that Live Nation has finalized its purchase of Governors Ball. Festival organizers claim they have the capacity to manage Governors Ball, but also acknowledged Live Nation’s resources to help keep the festival competitive and afford top talent at future events.