Money, Money, Money

Money, Money Money

Oh, yeah, I love me some Elvis and look forward to the Elvis theme this week.  However,  Gray Charles has astutely pointed out that the man who owns Idol has a big financial stake in the lucrative Elvis business, which includes Graceland tours, onsite retailing, and licensing.  This explains why the kids are flying down there this week to tape a segment–in order to promote Graceland and its associated enterprises:

“The man who bought Elvis is Robert F.X. Sillerman, 57, a Wall Street operator with a long history of minting money in the media business. In 1989 he sold a group of radio stations to Westinghouse (now Viacom) for $389 million. Eight years later he unloaded a bunch of stations to Hicks Muse for $2.1 billion. In 2000 he sold a company that owned concert venues to Clear Channel for a reported $3 billion.

Sillerman’s latest publicly traded corporate incarnation is called CKX. The CK stands for “content is king, ” while the X is a reference to one of his middle initials (they are F.X., and he won’t tell anyone what they stand for). Besides buying Elvis Presley Enterprises from Lisa Marie Presley last February, Sillerman and his lieutenants have purchased the smash-hit TV show American Idol and other properties from a company called 19 Entertainment, which was owned by British pop impresario Simon Fuller.

Though the Elvis business isn’t that big yet, it gives us a window into how Sillerman operates. First, understand that Sillerman actually owns very little of Elvis’s music. Elvis’s legendary manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker (a.k.a. Andreas Cornelius van Kuijk), sold the rights to RCA–now part of Sony BMG–decades ago. What Sillerman bought was Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE), a company that gets its $40 million in annual revenue from Graceland tours, onsite retailing, and licensing–each contributing a bit less than a third of the total–with the balance derived from an apartment complex and the Heartbreak Hotel.”

So there ya go.  There’s always more to the story.  Thanks Gray.