Sign up for IQ Index
The latest industry news to your inbox.
As AEG abandons its O2–Staples Center block booking, both it and Sharon Osbourne – whose husband, Ozzy, sued over the policy – are celebrating
By IQ on 26 Sep 2018
Lawyers for Ozzy Osbourne have agreed to drop their lawsuit against AEG after the US venues giant ended its ‘Staples Center Commitment’ tying booking between Staples Center in LA and the O2 in London.
The long-running ‘booking war’ between AEG and Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) reached its conclusion earlier this month after Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, confirmed the company is no longer block booking its LA Staples Center and London O2 venues.
The Black Sabbath frontman had previously sued over the policy, which the suit said was a “explicit”, “brazen” violation of US competition (‘antitrust’) law.
Welcoming the end of the legal action, AEG says in a statement: “This dismissal with prejudice is a victory for AEG. We were fully prepared to see the case through to vindicate our policy, but now that Osbourne has decided to dismiss with prejudice, the case is over.
“Our policy was an appropriate, lawful and effective competitive response to Irving Azoff’s pressure tactics seeking to force artists into the Forum [by requiring them to also play Madison Square Garden]. If those tactics resurface, we will redeploy our policy as needed.
“It is no surprise that once AEG refused to back down, Azoff, MSG and Live Nation became eager to drop the case as soon as possible”
“The Osbourne suit was instigated by Azoff and paid for by MSG and Live Nation. It was hatched on the back of an artist who we believe had no idea what he was biting off. The suit was a transparent public-relations ploy that failed to pressure AEG into backing down from a booking policy that was an effective competitive response to the MSG–Forum tie.
“It is no surprise that once AEG refused to back down, Azoff, MSG and Live Nation became eager to drop the case as soon as possible. They dismissed the case with prejudice after realising AEG would aggressively defend it, costing them tens of millions of dollars and posing a source of embarrassment once their questionable tactics were exposed in the course of discovery and trial.”
Unsurprisingly, and in characteristically outspoken style, Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy’s wife, soon offered a rebuttal of the AEG line and instead claimed victory for Osbourne/Azoff/MSG.
A full statement, sent to Rolling Stone, reads: “We know Mr. Anshultz [sic] (aka “Daddy Big Bucks”) is living in his billionaire bubble, but the fact is that Ozzy sued AEG for the right to perform at the O2 in London. We won the case and Ozzy’s show at the O2 went on sale on September 5 for a show next year (February 11, 2019)–so in my world that means we won the case. Ozzy is playing the O2 without having to play the Staples Center, which is all that mattered to us. From the start of this dialogue in February, this has been a battle about respect for the artists and their personal preferences. It wasn’t then and isn’t now a battle between promoters, which is how this is being portrayed by the recent statement from AEG claiming this as a “victory.”
“To say this suit was ‘instigated by Azoff and paid for by MSG and Live Nation’ … is untrue and disrespectful to Ozzy, myself and the entire team”
“To say that this “suit was instigated by Azoff and paid for by MSG and Live Nation,” and that “it was hatched on the back of an artist who we believe had no idea what he was biting off,” is untrue and disrespectful to Ozzy, myself and the entire team working on this tour. Whatever differences you have with Irving Azoff, don’t presume you know who instigated the lawsuit or you know anything about Ozzy Osbourne, because you obviously don’t know anything about Ozzy’s history or mine. So stop with your hubbildy, bubbuldy BULLSHIT and your little pissing contest with Live Nation and MSG.
“Regarding the allegations in the AEG statement that this “suit was a transparent public relations ploy,” if that was indeed the case, why then did AEG rush out a statement of victory? While we, throughout this process, until now have only made one statement around the initial filing.
“Ozzy’s preference was to perform at The Forum, a venue that has been a part of his music history for more than 46 years. From the start, this was not a battle solely for Ozzy, as much as one for other artists who were being forced to abide by these rules and regulations. Let’s not all forget why you’re here … the artists.
“The only thing remotely interesting in your statement was your pitiful attempt at humor with your quote that Ozzy “had no idea what he was biting off.” If you’re interested, Ozzy and I have got something nice for you [to] bite on … our assholes … see ya loser!”
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.