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Big Day Out Set To Change Hands Again

Concert promoter and ticketing giant Live Nation Entertainment is reportedly in talks to purchase a majority stake in C3 Presents, the promoter behind Lollapalooza and, as of earlier this year, the company who now own 100 percent of the iconic Australian festival, the Big Day Out.

According to the New York Times, the possible deal is still in the negotiation stages, and if completed would give Live Nation a 51 percent stake of C3, which is reportedly valued at around US$250 million.

Earlier this year Music Feeds revealed that C3 now own 100 percent of the Big Day Out, after promoter AJ Maddah sold his 50 percent stake in the company. The festival’s new owners then confirmed that the Big Day Out will not return in 2015.

In the aftermath of the news breaking, AJ Maddah insisted that although he sold all his shares to C3 for just $1, he has “the option” to buy them back for the same price at a later date, provided he throws in some extra capital.

He also insisted that he will still be involved in the running of the Big Day Out which he says will return in some capacity 2016, when “people will see the reboot of Big Day Out Version 2.” Exactly what that means remains unknown.

It has been speculated that C3 Presents would rebrand the festival as an Australian arm of Lollapalooza, since it has been announced that the Chicago-based festival is looking to expand further beyond its offshoot music festivals in South America. Maddah insisted to triple j this rebranding of the Big Day Out would not happen in Australia.

In June, C3 Presents released a statement confirming BDO 2015′s cancellation and stating their intention to bring the festival back “in future years”. The short statement made no mention of Maddah or his involvement.

Live Nation has already established a decent festival portfolio over the years, and has built a network of predominately EDM festivals, by acquiring the various dance promoters such as British EDM promoter Cream Holdings, organiser of the Creamfields Music Festival, the Los Angeles-based Hard, who run Hard Summer Music Festival and Insomniac Events, with its flagship festival Electric Daisy Carnival. Buying C3, the leading independent promoter in North America, would extend that portfolio to include a mixture of alt rock, indie and and EDM events.

In January this year president of Live Nation Australasia Michael Coppell told The Music Network that while Live Nation currently don’t operate festivals in Australia, they are looking to expand. “I think we’re looking at some stuff but it all depends on how things shake out after this festival season, it will be very interesting to see which brands survive and which don’t,” he told the publication.

While Coppell praised the Big Day Out as “a rite of passage” for young Australians, he criticised the festival’s choice of recent headline acts and said they may have “lost their core base”. “I think the real point that comes out is you’ve got to have a good reason for doing a festival,” he continued. “You’ve got to have a philosophy or a style which you bring to it.”

Back in 2011, former Big Day Out promoter Ken West opened up to the New Zealand Herald about his struggle to keep the festival independent by not selling it off to large companies like Live Nation. “Keeping it out of the Live Nation’s and the big stock market companies that like to gobble up these kinds of things is one of the hardest things for independent promoters to do, because they do offer a lot of money to do it,” he said.

“You’re in this quandary where you’re trying to do something that is really important for the local scene and you’ve got other people that are just trying to cherry pick the things that work out of your event…It’s the ultimate thing of art vs. commerce.”

The terms of the Live Nation deal with C3 are not currently known and neither company have commented on the reports. According to the Times, C3 already has “deep ties” with Live Nation as one of C3’s owners, Charlie Walker, is actually a former Live Nation exec. The other two owners are Charles Attal and Charlie Jones. The company was founded in 2007 and is based in Austin, Texas.

Photos: Big Day Out Perth – Arena Joondalup, 02/02/14 / Photos by Court McCallister

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