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Irving Azoff ‘hopeful’ for return to live in July

The Eagles manager spoke about his optimism for a return to touring, as well as recounting stories from across six decades in the music business, during his ILMC keynote

By IQ on 04 Mar 2021

Legendary artist manager Irving Azoff is hopeful that the US live sector will see a “decent reopening” this July, he said during his keynote interview at ILMC 33 today.

Azoff joined Ed Bicknell for The (Late) Breakfast Meeting at 16.30 today (4 March) for a wide-ranging interview that also touched on his early career in management with acts such as REO Speedwagon and Dan Fogelberg, hellraising with Keith Moon, his long association with Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF), and recent deals with the Beach Boys and David Crosby.

Azoff said the US is “much more optimistic” about returning to live music since the number of cases has dropped off far quicker than predicted, and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been approved for immediate use.

However, Azoff cautioned that the reopening in the States was not going to be uniform and would pose serious questions for those in the live music business.

“For those of us on the live music side of the business: you’ve got to commit to production and rehearsals and crews and bands and trucks and video walls without any kind of insurance. Unlike countries like the UK, which cares about their industry and has provided some relief, there’s been very little money flow through to anybody on the live side of the business here.”

Azoff says that without insurance, similar to the event cancellation funds set up in some European countries, the US live sector faces two big issues.

“The first issue is: When are states going to be open at full capacity or near it? The second is, without insurance, do you want to really take the risk after a year or two of no income, of putting your production together to try to work the rest of this year – or do you just want to wait till 2022?”

A lot of major artists are saying ‘I’m just going to wait till 2022’, but 2022 is going to be a train wreck here

Even once the US has found a way to reopen, Azoff predicts “a lot of drama” with test and tracing to get into live events.

“Can you ask people for proof of vaccination? Can you require people to be tested? Different health departments are going to have different views. A lot of major artists are saying, ‘I’m just going to wait till 2022’, but 2022 is going to be a train wreck here, just getting avails and everybody trying to run at once.”

Moving on, Azoff described the “surreal” experience of being honoured by the RRHOF – into which he was inducted in a virtual ceremony last year – and the cachet it affords artists and execs, even those as well established as Azoff.

“The whole Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thing is surreal – it’s a much bigger deal than I thought,” he explained. “There’s a kind of a newfound respect that you get around the business [when you’re part of it].”

Azoff became the fourth manager to be honoured by RRHOF, after Brian Epstein, Andrew Loog Oldham and Jon Landau.

The full Breakfast Meeting interview – which also included Azoff giving the inside story of Ticketmaster’s 2010 merger with Live Nation, as well as recounting how he fired Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac – is available to watch back until 5 April 2020 for ILMC 33 ticket holders. To register for the conference now, click here.


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