Live Nation is reportedly buying out Bonnaroo co-founder Superfly Entertainment.
According to Billboard, Live Nation plans to exercise a buyout clause in its agreement with Superfly to purchase the rest of the festival. Live Nation previously purchased a controlling interest in the festival in 2015.
“The transaction will take place before next year’s festival and effectively ends Superfly’s role as festival producer, although limited role for Superfly at the festivsal is being considered,” Billboard adds. “Going forward, Bonnaroo will be produced by co-founder AC Entertainment and C3 Presents, which Live Nation purchased in 2014.”
Since purchasing a majority stake in the festival, Live Nation has made a number of improvements to the festival grounds, including installing running water for showers, flushable toilets, and upgrades to the campgrounds and communal spaces.
At the same time, however, Live Nation’s involvement has drawn criticism from longtime festival-goers, who blame the media conglomerate for a series of lackluster lineups that seemingly catered to a younger demographic. As CoS contributor Ming Lee Newcomb outlined in her recent piece charting the festival’s evolution, longtime Bonnaroo institutions like the eclectic Other Tent morphed into an all-EDM stage, while the traditional Sunday classic-rock or jam closer was abandoned in favor of acts like The Weeknd. The lineup alternations didn’t necessarily have a positive effect on the festival, as Bonnaroo drew an all-time low attendance total of 45,000 in 2016. The following two years each drew around 65,000 festival-goers.
This year, however, Bonnaroo made something of a comeback, as it sold out for the first time since 2013 with a massive number of 80,000 passes sold. The uptick in tickets coincided with a more diverse lineup that saw the return of Phish alongside Childish Gambino, Post Malone, Solange, The Avett Brothers, The National, Kacey Musgraves, Cardi B, Brandi Carlile, The Lumineers, The Lonely Island, and more.
Beyond the improvements to Bonnaroo, Live Nation has also sought to turn Great Stage Park as a multi-event venue. For the first time this year, the park will welcome a second event, Exit 111 Rock Festival, which takes place in October.