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Stock rockin' beats: electronic dance music goes corporate with big IPO

Stock rockin' beats: electronic dance music goes corporate with big IPO


SFX Entertainment's Nasdaq debut could mark a turning point for booming industry

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EMD rave (flickr)
EMD rave (flickr)

Electronic dance music is set to sweep Wall Street this morning as investors look to cash in on a rapidly growing rave industry and the millenial consumers who are fueling it.

SFX Entertainment, a concert and live events company focused exclusively on electronic dance music (EDM), will start trading on the Nasdaq exchange Wednesday after raising far more money than anticipated. On Tuesday, the company priced its initial public offering (IPO) at $13 a share, valuing SFX at $1.05 billion, according to a report from The New York Times. The company initially planned to offer 16.7 million shares, but ended up selling 20 million ahead of its Nasdaq debut, raising $260 million in the process — notably higher than the $175 million it planned to raise when it announced plans to go public in June.

"a global generational movement"

"We view EMC [electronic music culture] as a global generational movement driven by a rapidly developing community of avid followers among the millennial generation," SFX said in a S-1 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in June. "Our mission is to enable this movement by providing our fans with the best possible live experiences, music discovery, and connectivity with other fans and events."

SFX, which will be traded under the symbol SFXE, was founded in 2011 by 65-year-old media entrepreneur Robert F.X. Sillerman. The company produces high-profile EDM festivals such as Electric Zoo in New York and TomorrowWorld, which brought 140,000 fans to Georgia late last month. SFX reported more than $268 million in annual revenue with $68 million in net losses for 2012, and it plans to spend $150 million of its IPO funding to acquire concert promotion and production companies.

Analysts say today's listing stands as further testament to the growing corporate interest in EDM, which until recently had been relegated to the confines of underground enthusiasts and drug-friendly clubs. According to the most recent International Music Summit Business Report, the global EDM industry is expected to reach a value of $4.5 billion this year, largely on the strength of live events and concert ticket sales.

A "turning point" for the EDM industry

Kevin Watson, a London-based analyst who authored the report, says SFX's decision to go public marks a "turning point" in the evolution of the EDM market. Although competitors like LiveNation have invested heavily in the genre over the past year, SFX is geared exclusively to EDM audiences.

"It will be a very obvious barometer for both investors and fans as to where dance music is at," Watson says in a phone interview with The Verge. The company's performance, he adds, will provide "a better idea of whether it is indeed growing as fast as we think it has been, or whether it will be a short-lived fad that will die off."