Breakingviews

Music rally can shake off discordant Taylor Swift

November 3, 2014

The 24-year-old pop star yanked her latest album and catalog from Spotify. The digital streaming service and its ilk offer low per-song royalties but subscriptions give labels higher margins than CDs or downloads. Buyer habits are also changing, even if Swift is stuck in 1989.

Free spirit (and marketing power) of Lollapalooza doesn’t come cheap

October 7, 2014

In an era when everything is shared or rented, including music, there’s a premium to be paid for actual experience – like, say, a festival. That partly explains the media mogul’s interest in Live Nation, which is stalking the promoter behind Lollapalooza and other big gigs.

Henry Kravis spins a different kind of club deal

September 16, 2014

The buyout baron’s KKR is buying Pioneer’s DJ audio equipment business for $550 mln. It’s Abenomics meets Ibiza for the private equity firm’s latest trendy investment. Kravis is laying down a smooth groove in a funky M&A market, but could be late to the dance music party.

Wall Street lets itself go for dance rave IPO

October 9, 2013

Investors shelled out $260 mln to get past the velvet ropes and into the debut of SFX, Robert Sillerman’s electronic dance music promotion roll-up. Besides an overdose of Molly, the best explanation may be the “my grandson likes that Skrillex guy” school of stock investing.

Music raves better off in clubs than Wall Street

July 25, 2013

Just don’t tell Robert F.X. Sillerman, who’s rolling up the electronic dance music business under one big disco ball the way he did rock concerts. Much of the $175 mln SFX Entertainment wants to raise in an IPO is already committed to deals. This party promises a bad hangover.

Fender stock buyers will gently weep

July 12, 2012

The iconic maker of guitars favored by Clapton and Hendrix is riffing on an IPO valuation of 20 times earnings. But Fender has questionable global expansion plans, depends on a big shaky customer and generates only pick-thin margins. There’s too much to make investors fret.

Kraftwerk bangs home note on tech obsolescence

April 11, 2012

The tale of how an odd German electronic band from the 1970s remains relevant enough to merit an eight-night gig at New York’s MOMA helps explain why some innovations fade and others flourish. Ultimately, success in technology - as in art - is more about big ideas than gadgets.

Music gods again divert EMI’s destiny

November 11, 2011

With both EMI and Warner under new owners, it seemed the stars might finally uncross for their long-awaited union. But Sony and Universal brought their own karma and cash to the EMI auction, and Warner is again alone at the altar. Further twists of fate are in regulators’ hands.

Rock’n'roll becomes form of economic stimulus

November 1, 2011

That, at least, is the message from the Moogfest, which took place in Asheville, North Carolina, this past weekend. Aside from giving synthesizer geeks an outlet, Rob Cox found the three-day festival making good use of Asheville’s facilities and boosting local businesses.

America’s rock concert ogre looking less beastly

July 14, 2010

Who's still afraid of Live Nation? The merger in January of America's leading concert promoter with the dominant ticket-seller, Ticketmaster, was supposed to create a dangerously powerful monster in the rock'n'roll business. That's why critics like Bruce Springsteen turned the dial up to 11 on their unsuccessful protests against the deal.