It’s a deal that should be music to the ears of many Austinites.
Transmission Events, which produces Fun Fun Fun Fest in addition to handling booking and other responsibilities for a number of well-known Central Texas music venues, has received an infusion of cash that will help the locally based company grow, co-founder James Moody told the American-Statesman.
The funding comes from another Austin firm: Stratus Properties, developer of the $300 million W Austin Hotel and Residences.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Stratus Properties will take a partial ownership stake in Transmission Events.
While Stratus’ primary focus is real estate – in addition to the W, it brought the Escarpment Village and Parkside Village shopping centers to life in Southwest Austin – the firm has experience in the entertainment business. Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater, a nationally known concert venue that’s home to the PBS network’s “Austin City Limits” program, is located at the base of the W building in downtown Austin.
Transmission has staged several shows at ACL Live, Moody said, which helped him form a relationship with Stratus chairman and CEO Beau Armstrong.
“This all came together very organically,” Moody said. “We’ve been friends forever and, one day, I told Beau that eventually I’d need a capital partnership to help us grow.”
Armstrong said he was sold almost immediately – before Moody and Transmission co-founder Graham Williams even had a chance to talk with other potential investors.
“I’ve always been very impressed with them,” Armstrong said. “They have an amazing vision for the future.”
Armstrong said a priority is to help grow Fun Fun Fun Fest, an annual music and comedy festival. This year’s event is set for Nov. 8-10 at Auditorium Shores.
“The key element of this is Fun Fun Fun Fest,” Armstrong said. “They’ve now got the capital to grow the fest.”
The three-day event has grown significantly in recent years. A report from the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates Fun Fun Fun Fest pumped about $27 million into the city’s economy last year.
Attendance topped 55,000, the report said, an increase of 17 percent from 2011, and 160 acts performed as part of the festival.
Transmission has grown rapidly, as well, since its founding in 2007. Moody says the company was involved with 600 events last year that sold a combined total of 100,000 tickets.
During the South by Southwest festival alone, Transmission has 12 different events happening around town this week, he said.
Its eight-person full-time workforce spikes to almost 300 people each November, when freelancers are added to help produce Fun Fun Fun Fest, Moody said.
But a bigger Fun Fun Fun Fest won’t just create more jobs and draw bigger crowds. When combined with the dozens of other venues Transmission works with, Moody said he hopes to give up-and-coming musicians more opportunities to be seen and heard.
“It’s a real career path for artists,” Moody said. “We can walk them from 100- to 300- to 600-seat venues, ACL Live and then Fun Fun Fun.”
With the ACL Live and Transmission deals now under his belt, Armstrong said he wouldn’t rule out future entertainment-focused deals. However, nothing is currently in the works, he said.
“I’m crazy about Austin,” Armstrong said. “We’re always on the lookout for strategic add-on businesses.”