California company buys majority stake in Austin’s C3 Presents


Austin-based concert promoter C3 Presents — a homegrown powerhouse in the music industry, one of the biggest players in the Austin music scene and the company that puts on the Austin City Limits Music Festival — is now controlled by a California company.

Completing a transaction that has been hinted at for months, Beverly Hills-based Live Nation Entertainment — the world’s largest concert promoter — said Friday it has acquired a controlling stake in C3 Presents.

Led by industry veterans Charles Attal, Charlie Jones and Charlie Walker, C3 is the biggest concert promoter in Central Texas and one of the largest concert promoters in North America. The company owns and operates ACL Fest — which is held in Zilker Park — and produces the annual Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago. The company also promotes more than 1,700 additional concerts and events every year.

Lollapalooza has become one of the most successful global festival brands, with events in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Sao Paulo, along with the iconic Chicago fest.

Financial terms of the deal were not released. Media reports in October had estimated C3’s value at about $250 million, but the companies have not confirmed that amount.

Live Nation did not disclose what role Attal, Jones and Walker might have with the company. Michael Rapino, president and chief executive officer of Live Nation Entertainment, said in a written statement that he would “look forward to working alongside them as they continue to build a world class festival company.”

It is unclear how Live Nation’s purchase will affect the local music scene. Calls to Live Nation seeking additional information were not immediately returned Friday afternoon. Attal, Jones and Walker could not be reached for comment.

C3 has a broad reach in Austin. Most of the large touring shows that come through town are booked through C3, and the company also handles most or all of the booking for such music venues as Stubb’s, Emo’s and the Parish.

In a written statement, Attal, Jones and Walker said: “We are excited to join Live Nation and become a part of their global family, while continuing to grow our festivals within a culture of entrepreneurship that will empower our team to keep improving these festivals and the fan experience.”

Founded in 2007 when Walker left Live Nation to partner with Attal and Jones, C3’s reach has expanded beyond music and into sports and politics. C3 produced President Barack Obama’s election night party in Chicago’s Grant Park in November 2008, and it was involved in Obama’s January 2009 inaugural concert and celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.

Early in his campaign, C3 produced Obama’s February 2007 appearance at Auditorium Shores on Lady Bird Lake.

In October, as reports of a Live Nation and C3 deal swirled, concert industry analyst Bob Lefsetz told the American-Statesman that if the two companies joined forces it likely would lead to some changes but none that would be noticeable to Austin music fans.

“Welcome to the real world … consolidation happens,” Lefsetz, who publishes the Lefsetz Letter website, told the Statesman. “As for the average concertgoer, they’ll likely see no impact whatsoever.”

Reached by email Friday, Lefsetz reiterated that position. “I would expect little change” he wrote. “Nothing for anyone to get their panties in a twist about.”

Staff writer Deborah Sengupta Stith contributed to this report.


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