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Raleigh’s Hopscotch Music Festival to be sold

Hopscotch, one of downtown Raleigh’s key music festivals, will soon be under new ownership, but attendees probably won’t notice much difference between the 2015 model of the alternative-themed festival and its first five years.

Negotiations are in the final stages for Travis Janovich, founder and owner of Morrisville-based Etix, to buy Hopscotch from festival co-founder Greg Lowenhagen. Etix has handled Hopscotch ticket sales for all five years of its existence.

Paul Laughter, Etix director of sales, also will have a smaller ownership stake in Hopscotch Presents, LLC. Lowenhagen won’t have any ownership after the sale, but he will remain festival director. Lowenhagen declined to reveal further details, including sale price.

“I think Greg’s done an excellent job curating it, and I don’t want to mess that up,” Janovich said Monday. “So it will be business as usual. There won’t be many visible changes except I hope Greg will look a little more relaxed.”

Hopscotch has turned a profit in two of its first five years – including 2014, with a lineup featuring Spoon, Mastodon, St. Vincent and others. The festival drew more than 20,000 people over three days, a size Lowenhagen hopes to maintain as a target.

“We turned our largest profit ever last year, and I thought it was one of the best fan experiences with the shows we put on,” Lowenhagen said. “If we can repeat what we did in 2015 and continue to make small changes where we save a little more here and make a little more there, it’s definitely sustainable at this level.”

Hopscotch 2015 is scheduled for Sept. 10-12, with tickets going on sale in February. The first round of lineup announcements is set for mid-April.

In years past, acts ranging from The Roots to Flaming Lips have been Hopscotch’s MainStage headliners on Raleigh’s City Plaza. Well over 100 other acts also play in clubs and theaters and on outdoor stages across downtown.

“Hopscotch is different from other festivals because so many local venues are involved,” said Janovich. “It’s also one of the better music-discovery platforms compared to the larger festivals.

“Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and (Austin City Limits) all seem to have the same headliners – there was one summer where I saw Jack White eight different times because of that,” he said. “But Hopscotch is a wonderful weekend of bands you’ve never heard of. That’s a great niche compared to the super-festivals all booking Radiohead or whoever.”

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