MORE DETAILS are emerging of the restructuring of about eight per cent of the festival market, following the surprise decision by radio giant Global to divest the majority of its festival interests (see sister publication Audience, issue 231).
The bulk of the group’s festivals have been divided between two companies, Global’s former partner Broadwick Live and relatively new Los Angeles-based Superstruct Entertainment, which is led by Creamfields founder James Barton, as CEO, and backed by Providence Equity Partners.
Superstruct takes control of Victorious Festival (cap. 100,000), South West Four (20,000), Kendal Calling (25,000), Truck (10,000), Tramlines (40,000) and Boardmasters (50,000), plus Croatian festival Hideout (15,000).
Separate companies appear to be operating each event, with Barton a director of Superstruct UK Investco, Boardmasters II Ltd, Boardmasters Ltd, Eleven Ltd, Superstruct Kendal Ltd, Lakeside Creatives and Victorious Festivals Ltd. However, records show he is not a director of Superstruct Entertainment Limited, which is directed by Providence financiers Roderik Schlösser, Daniel Swicky and Sinisa Krnic.
Barton founded Creamfields (cap. 70,000) and sold it to Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) in 2012. Although active with Sziget (95,000) in Hungary, Flow (10,000) in Finland and Oya (15,000) in Norway, this is Barton’s first foray into UK festivals since then.
Boardmasters founder Vision Nine tells LIVE UK it is, “Delighted to have formed a new partnership with Superstruct Entertainment. Led by CEO Andrew Topham it will continue to operate and run Boardmasters as they have done for over 20 years.”
Broadwick Live, headed by Gareth Cooper, founded Festival No 6 (14,000) and Austria’s Snowbombing (6,000), before its acquisition by Global four years ago, since when it acquired Standon Calling (17,000) and Field Day (32,000).
Cooper tells LIVE UK it is too early to provide more details on how his new-look business will be structured but promises more information next month.
It appears that Y-Not? (29,000) was not part of the arrangement and is still with Global, and up for sale. In a statement, Global says, “We can confirm that we are in the process of selling our festivals business, with some recently completed, and some in the process. We’re very proud of the portfolio of festivals we’ve put together, however it’s not our core sector and we will now be focussing on our radio and outdoor businesses.”
The restructuring creates uncertainty for the Association of Festival Organisers (AIF), which represents over 60 independent festivals including most of the Global portfolio, admits CEO Paul Reed.
While he is confident Broadwick Live events will remain part of the association, he has had no indication from Superstruct whether it will be involved. But, he points out, “James Barton is a founding member of the AIF with Creamfields, before he joined Live Nation. So he has an understanding of what it is.”
The largest commercial radio group in Europe, Global’s stations in the UK include Capital, LBC and Classic FM, and it also has substantial outdoor billboard advertising interests. Global, which scrapped its touring arm in 2017 after executives Sam Bush and Joe Schiavon moved to LNE, spent more than £75 million acquiring festival assets in that year alone.
Its decision to exit the live music sector is reminiscent of US radio station and billboards giant Clear Channel Communications’ acquisition of SFX Entertainment for $4.4 billion (£3.39bn) in 2000. Unable to find anticipated synergy between live entertainment and radio, it spun-off the division as Live Nation five years later with debts of around $750m (£578m).
Neither Barton nor anyone at Superstruct was available for comment as LIVE UK went to print.