Roberto Medina: The Business of Rock

By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazilian entrepreneur and advertiser Roberto Medina created and organized the first Rock in Rio in 1985 and in the almost thirty years since, the music festival has become one of the most well-known in the world. This year will mark the thirteenth edition of Rock in Rio, a brand whose reach now goes beyond Brazil, with editions held in three global cities and plans for expansion.

Roberto Medina and Eike Batista, Rock in Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

Roberto Medina (left) and Eike Batista, photo by Luiz Roberto Lima/Futura Press.

According to an Exame report, record profits are expected for this year’s festival with proceeds marking a fifty percent increase in returns since the last edition of the festival. Next, Buenos Aires, Argentina is scheduled to become the fourth host city in 2014.

A large source of revenue was the licensing on 350 products during the 2011 festival, and there will be an estimated 600 products licensed this year. Products range from clothing to food and beverages to a special Rock in Rio themed edition of car manufacturer Volkswagen’s Fox model.

Since its creation in 1985 the festival has been about expansion, and has been fueled by Medina’s grandiose yet successful imagination. Approximately 1.4 million people were in attendance during the original ten-day-long festival which featured both national and international artists.

The son of businessman Abraham Medina, Roberto created the Rock in Rio festival through his publicity agency Artplan. It was during a time when Brazil was emerging from the rule of a military dictatorship, and a drought of international concerts.

Medina saw a need and filled it, creating the largest music festival in the world at the time. The second edition of the festival was held six years later in 1991, and the third a full ten years later in 2001. For the fourth edition in 2004, Medina moved the festival to Lisbon, Portugal.

There he made the controversial decision to keep the Rock in Rio name, and later added Lisboa (Lisbon) to the end and kept the basic structure of the festival the same. Proving successful, the festival was again held in Lisbon in 2006 and 2008. The same year a festival for Madrid, Spain, Rock in Rio Madrid, was also organized.

Rock in Rio official product booth, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

Rock in Rio official product booth at Cidade do Rock 2011, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Riotur.

In 2010 the festival again took place in both Madrid and Lisbon, and then finally, in 2011, after a ten-year-hiatus Rock and Rio returned to its city of origin. Tickets for the event sold out within four days of officially going on sale.

The return of the Rock in Rio to Brazil inspired other entrepreneurs to make larger investments in the entertainment sector. Brazilian entertainment company, Time For Fun (T4F) went public on BM&F Bovespa (Brazilian Securities, Commodities and Futures) in April 2011 and raised R$539 million.

That year, then billionaire Eike Batista also created his own the entertainment company, IMX, as part of the EBX Group and IMG Worldwide.

In 2012 Batista and Medina signed a partnership agreement with the intent to expand the brand of Rock in Rio even farther. Batista, through IMX Live, the entertainment arm of IMX, bought fifty percent of Medina’s World Rock S.A., the company that owns the Rock in Rio brand.

Since that time Batista saw a major reversal of fortune with his X companies suffering precipitous falls on the Bovespa, leading him to shed assets, including IMX. No word yet on what this might mean for the future of Rock in Rio as a buyer for IMX has not yet come forward.

T4F also suffered a thirty percent decease in worth in the first half of this year due to the decrease in revenues from shows through lack of ticket sales, something other Brazilian entertainment companies have struggled with.

However, Medina and Rock in Rio have not. In fact, tickets for this year’s edition sold out within 4 hours with 80,000 passports (pre-sale tickets) selling out six months earlier in under an hour. “Every edition incorporates new advances, […] But Rock in Rio has a peculiar feature: the organization treats the fans with the same sensibility and respect it devotes to the artists hired.”

One Response to "Roberto Medina: The Business of Rock"

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