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The decade in live: 2013

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

Following on from a few tough years, 2013 was the year the live industry began to sparkle again, thanks to the improvement of several key economies and more favourable weather conditions.

The main issue for the 2013 business, in fact, appeared to be the abundance of tours, which somewhat outnumbered the amount of resources available to handle them.

2013 was also the year when a new generation began to shine, with the likes of Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and One Direction performing well on year-end charts, indicating that the future of live was certainly looking bright.

 


2013 in numbers

In 2013, the top 20 worldwide tours raked in a combined US$2.4 billion, up 24% on the $2bn generated the year before, according to Pollstar.

Bon Jovi once again made the top spot, surpassing their winning 2010 total by almost $60 million and achieving the highest year-end tour total of the year, grossing $259.5m from 2.7m tickets with the Because We Can tour.

Beyoncé’s The Mrs Carter Show came in second with a total gross of $188.6m, followed by Pink’s The Truth About Love with $170.6m. Justin Bieber came hot on the Pink’s heels at fourth, grossing $169m with his second concert tour Believe. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band earned $145.4m, adding to the $210.2m grossed in 2012.

Newcomers also made their mark in 2013, with One Direction scraping into the top ten global tours for the first time with the Take Me Home tour ($114) and Bruno Mars making his first top twenty appearance with Moonshine Jungle tour.

 


2013 in brief

January
Seatwave founder and chief exec Joe Cohen exits the UK-based company, claiming that the secondary ticketing business is in great shape.

Kylie Minogue and her manager of 25 years, Terry Blamey, split, as the artist announces her intention to concentrate on her acting career. Minogue is now represented by Jay-Z’s management company Roc Nation, who also look after Rihanna, MIA and The Ting Tings.

February
Universal sells EMI’s Parlophone label group to Warner Music for an estimated £480m ($764m). The deal effectively means that three record companies now dominate the global market – Universal, Sony and Warner.

March
SFX Entertainment receives an undisclosed financial boost from advertising giant WPP, which counts agencies such as JWT; Grey; and Young & Rubicam in its portfolio. The deal gives SFX a powerful ally as it looks to ramp up its EDM empire.

AEG’s deal to take over the management of Wembley Arena is referred to the Competition Commission in the UK after an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading, which is concerned that AEG has too big an influence over live entertainment in the capital.

The decade in live: 2013

Wembley Stadium in 2013 © Wikiolo/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0

April
Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, becomes arguably the most renowned ticket tout in the world, when he resells tickets for his debenture box at the Royal Albert Hall.

New York-based agency Paradigm launches a record label, Big Picnic Records, which boss Marty Diamond intends to use to “support the development of new artists.”

May
Ticketmaster files a lawsuit against a New York man who they allege uses bots to buy as many as 200,000 tickets a day, before the general public can.

Pink smashes her record of 17 shows at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena by booking an 18th date on her The Truth About Love tour. The Australian leg includes 46 shows and is expected to sell more than 500,000 tickets.

June
The promoter and stage supplier are charged in relation to a fatal stage collapse, which claimed the life of Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson in Toronto’s Downsview Park last year.

Live Nation and Insomniac Events confirm rumours of a creative partnership, although the latter’s chief, Pasquale Rotella states Insomniac will remain independent.

The decade in live: 2013

Insomniac promotes EDM festival franchise Electric Daisy Carnival © Global Stomping/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

July
Vince Power sells a major shareholding in Benicàssim Festival to SJM Concerts and Denis Desmond in a deal designed to assure the future of the popular Spanish event. Power will remain MD of the event which this year featured Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Beady Eye, and The Killers.

Vivendi rejects an $8.5bn offer for Universal Music Group from Japanese telecoms giant SoftBank. It’s thought the increasing importance of music services in the mobile market prompted the unsolicited offer.

August
Lady Gaga and Madonna face prosecution in Russia for allegedly performing without proper visas. Both artists are accused of breaking Russia’s new gay propaganda laws, which make it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors.

Agency IMG Worldwide is put up for sale by private equity firm, Forstmann Little & Co, with analysts expecting a price tag of about $2bn.

September
Michael Gudinski’s Frontier Touring agrees a strategic partnership with dance promoter Future Music Festival to present the touring event, which visits five Australian cities and Malaysia next March.

Irving Azoff partners with The Madison Square Garden Company to create Azoff MSG Entertainment. In return for a $125m investment, MSG will own a 50% stake in a company, which will include artist management, TV production, live event branding and digital marketing divisions.

The decade in live: 2013

Benicàssim Festival © Jiquesan/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

October
The jury in the $1.5bn case brought by Michael Jackson’s family against AEG finds that although AEG did employ Dr Conrad Murray, the company was not liable for his negligence.

Austin City Limits organisers are forced to cancel the final day of the US music festival when heavy rain and thunderstorms cause flooding.

November
Scooter Braun, manager of Justin Bieber, is pulling together a management conglomerate thanks to backing from Waddell & Reed Financial. The New York Times says Braun is in talks with several potential partners including Drake and his management team, Shania Twain and Troy Carter (ex Lady Gaga manager).

Live Nation confirms it is negotiating terms to acquire the management companies of U2 and Madonna. The deal to buy Paul McGuinness’s Principle Management and Guy Oseary’s Maverick could cost about $30m with Oseary taking over management of both operations.

December
Talent agency William Morris Endeavour acquires IMG Worldwide in a $2.3bn deal backed by private equity group Silver Lake.

SFX Entertainment pays $16.2m for a 75% stake in Dutch- based ticketing operation Paylogic, which counts 2,000 clients across its offices in Groningen, Amsterdam, Berlin and Antwerp.

The decade in live: 2013

Claude Nobs, Montreux Jazz founder (1936-2013) © Yvan Hausmann @ MJF/Yvanhausman (CC BY-SA 3.0)

 


Who we lost

Notable industry deaths in 2013 include Claude Nobs, Montreux Jazz Festival founder and GM, 76; Modern World founder Henning Tögel, 58; Cecil Womack, The Valentinos and Womack & Womack singer, aged 65; Live Nation Denmark CEO Flemming Schmidt, 63; German promoter Fritz Rau, 83; Edwin Shirley, founder of Edwin Shirley Trucking and Edwin Shirley Staging, 65; Danish live music impresario Arne Worsøe, 72; Velvet Underground singer and guitarist and solo artist Lou Reed, 71.

 


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Irving Azoff buys MSG’s share of JV for $125m

Irving Azoff’s Azoff Music Management has agreed to acquire Madison Square Garden Company (MSG)’s 50% stake in the companies’ Azoff MSG Entertainment joint venture, formed in 2013.

Following the completion of the deal – which will see Azoff Music Management pay MSG US$125 million for its stake – the company will be rebranded the Azoff Company, and will continue to advise MSG on its venues, including the Forum in Los Angeles and the new MSG Sphere arenas in London and Las Vegas.

“I am extremely proud that my partner, [MSG CEO] Jim Dolan, and I built an innovative company which always put the artists’ and songwriters’ interests first,” says Azoff (pictured). “The Azoff Company will build on this foundation of positive disruption and artist advocacy: we will continue to challenge antiquated parts of the entertainment business on behalf of artists and fans.

“The Azoff Company is proud to renew our commitment to the Forum and MSG’s transformative vision for the best possible live entertainment experience.”

“Irving has been a valued business partner and we know that he will continue to enjoy incredible success in his company and his continued role with us”

Azoff, the former CEO of Ticketmaster and executive chairman of Live Nation, and chairman of Full Stop Management (Eagles, Harry Styles, Lindsey Buckingham, Don Henley, Van Halen), launched Azoff MSG Entertainment in September 2013. Key achievements of the partnership include the 2014 renovation of the Forum into a world-class arena-sized venue and the launch of MSG Sphere initiative, which will see striking, high-tech arenas built in Las Vegas and London. He was also a key figure in the recently concluded ‘booking war’ between Azoff MSG Entertainment and AEG Presents.

“Irving has been a valued business partner, and we know that he will continue to enjoy incredible success in his company and in his continued role with us,” comments Dolan. “This evolution of our relationship comes at a time when we are working to align all areas of our business to support our goal: the creation of next-generation venues that will transform the live experience.

“We will continue to rely on Irving’s relationships and expertise to help bring that vision to reality.”

MSG is currently exploring a spin-off of its live entertainment and sports businesses, with the dedicated live division to comprise the Forum, Madison Square Garden, MSG Bookings and Boston Calling festival, among others.

 


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Booking war nears end as AEG abandons block booking

Update (23/9/18): The Osbournes have dropped their lawsuit against AEG following the end of the O2–Staples Center block-booking arrangement.

 


The long-running ‘booking war’ between AEG and Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) looks to be approaching its conclusion, 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 two companies have been engaged in a tit-for-tat dispute since early 2017, with AEG instituting a booking policy that forces artists who want to perform at AEG’s European venues, particularly the 20,000-cap. O2 Arena, to also play Staples Center (21,000-cap.) rather than MSG’s LA Forum (17,500-cap.). MSG and Azoff MSG Entertainment, its joint venture with former Live Nation executive chairman Irving Azoff, similar tied Madison Square Garden in New York with the Forum in LA, with each party blaming the other for starting the ‘war’.

Recent developments include MSG-allied Live Nation lodging a complaint with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority over the O2–Staples Center arrangement, which was dismissed by the CMA last December, and, in March, Ozzy and Sharon Obsnourne suing AEG, alleging that forcing artists to play both venues is an “explicit”, “brazen” violation of US competition law.

Announcing the end of the block-booking policy, Marciano tells Variety it is no longer necessary now that MSG has ended its own tying arrangement.

“I applaud Jay Marciano and AEG’s decision to put artists first”

“Going forward, promoters for artists who want to play the O2 will no longer to be required to commit to playing Staples,” he says.

“We would only require that commitment if we had reason to believe that artists were being somehow pressured to play the Forum in order to have access to the Garden. But we’ve had a lot of feedback from artists and agents and managers that they’re no longer [feeling pressured to do so].

“We’re pleased that this is the end result.”

Azoff welcomes the news, while also praising the Osbournes for their legal action. “It’s a great day for artists when those of us that make a living serving them recognise that artists should have the right to their own decisions, especially regarding choice of venues to play,” he says in a statement. “I applaud Jay Marciano and AEG’s decision to put artists first, and of course thanks to Ozzy and Sharon for standing up for everyone.”

 


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Booking war: Ozzy sues AEG over “blatant anticompetitive conduct”

Ozzy Osbourne has brought legal action against for AEG for its block booking policy between The O2 and Staples Center, alleging that forcing artists to play both venues is an “explicit”, “brazen” violation of US competition (‘antitrust’) law.

In a class-action lawsuit filed yesterday in the US district court for central California, lawyers for Osbourne (real name John Michael) claim AEG’s policy of requiring acts who want to perform at the 20,000-cap. O2 Arena in London to also play Staples Center (21,000-cap.) in LA – allegedly dubbed the ‘Staples Center Commitment’ by AEG – is an “unlawful tying arrangement that unfairly leverages AEG’s dominance in greater London to distort and deter competition in greater Los Angeles”.

It is the latest twist in the long-running ‘booking war’ between AEG and Madison Square Garden Company/Live Nation – the latter of which has a similar tying of Madison Square Garden in New York and the Forum in LA – and marks the first legal action challenging the practice. A complaint lodged by Live Nation in the UK aimed at ending the so-called Staples Center Commitment was dismissed by the Consumer and Markets Authority (CMA) last December.

Osbourne (pictured), represented by San Francisco’s Latham & Watkins, aims, “on his own behalf and for all similarly situated artists, to prohibit AEG from enforcing the Staples Center Commitment”. The suit also seeks legal fees and “all other relief the court may deem proper and just”.

“The harm to competition from the Staples Center Commitment is profound, immediate and irreparable”

“The harm to competition from the Staples Center Commitment is profound, immediate and irreparable,” alleges the suit, “and must be enjoined”.

The lawsuit follows follows an open letter sent by Osbourne’s wife, Sharon, to AEG last month demanding the end of the block-booking policy and accusing AEG of “bringing artists into a power struggle you’re having with your competitor, Live Nation”.

After revealing AEG had sent Osbourne’s tour promoter, Live Nation, an agreement which “clearly states that Ozzy cannot play at The O2 in London unless we legally agree to play at Staples Center in Los Angeles”, Sharon warned: “If you do not confirm the date for Ozzy at The O2 in London then I will be forced to take legal action against AEG [Presents] without delay.”

Court documents make clear The O2 is at the centre of the dispute, with Latham & Watkins’ Daniel Wall, Timothy O’Mara and Andrew Gass describing the arena as “a singular concert venue – the only indoor arena in London with the capacity to host major concerts. The O2 is a ‘must-have’ venue for the top international touring artists, as witnessed by the steady stream of marquee artists who play The O2 annually.”

“This suit is without merit and we will vigorously fight it”

AEG – which also operates Wembley Arena (12,500-cap.) and the Eventim Apollo (5,039-cap.) – is, therefore, “a clear monopolist in the market for arena-sized venues in greater London”. That’s a situation set to continue for at least the next few years, although Madison Square Garden Company’s hotly anticipated new MSG Sphere London venue will shake up the market when it opens sometime around 2020.

In a statement provided to IQ, Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, responds: “This suit is without merit and we will vigorously fight it. We welcome a closer look at the global live entertainment market and, specifically, our practices and the practices of our competition.

“AEG has always worked hard to put artists first. At the same time, we must respond to the actions of those we compete with, specifically Live Nation and Madison Square Garden. Fighting for a level playing field is fair competition at its core.”

 


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MSG sues Inglewood mayor over “secret” arena plans

The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has filed a lawsuit against James T. Butts Jnr, the mayor of Inglewood, accusing him of defrauding its Forum venue over allegedly secret plans to build a new arena just south of the Forum.

The 46-page complaint, filed yesterday (5 March) in Los Angeles superior court, details what MSG calls “the improper actions of the city, Mayor Butts (in both his public and private roles) and other co-defendants that jeopardise the Forum”. The company says Butts and local authorities held secret negotiations with the LA Clippers, a basketball team, to “deprive” MSG of 15 acres of land it leased from the city for arena parking, allegedly telling MSG the city needed the land for a “technology park”.

“Knowing the Forum needed the land for parking and would not give up its lease for a competitive arena literally down the street, the city secretly negotiated with the Clippers,” according to the Forum’s lawyer, Marvin Putnam of Latham & Watkins.

“The city did not use the parking lease property for a technology park or comparable development, nor did Mayor Butts or the city ever intend to do so,” the lawsuit alleges.

The Clippers announced plans for a new “world-class basketball arena” – allegedly on the site of the proposed ‘technology park’ – last month.

“The city’s actions violated the lease between the city and Forum”

“Seemingly aware of his deception”, Butts, MSG alleges, even directed Forum executives to email him about the parking lease only at his personal Gmail account so he could keep discussions “confidential”.

“The city’s actions violated the lease between the city and Forum, the development agreement between the Forum and the city, and fundamental principles of good faith and fair dealing as required by California law,” says Putnam.

The development agreement between the two parties requires MSG to invest at least US$50 million in the venue and meet ongoing ticket minimums guaranteeing about $600,000 in revenue for the city each year for 30 years. In return, the lawsuit says, the city explicitly agrees to not engage in “any action or proceeding” that would cause “a material adverse impact on the […] economic competitiveness of the Forum.”

In addition to the 17,500-cap. LA Forum, Madison Square Garden Company owns Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theatre, in New York, and the Chicago Theatre, as well as the New York Knicks and New York Liberty basketball teams and the New York Rangers ice hockey team.

The company also last month revealed plans for futuristic new venues in Las Vegas and London, based on its cutting-edge MSG Sphere concept.

 


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MSG reveals high-tech London venue plans

London is to get a striking new large-scale music and entertainment venue courtesy of Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), its first outside the US, IQ can reveal. The venue will be based on the groundbreaking MSG Sphere concept unveiled yesterday in New York and LA.

MSG Sphere – which will debut at the American venue giant’s new 18,000-seat arena in Las Vegas when it breaks ground this June – aims “to make concertgoers part of the experience” through what MSG describes as “game-changing technologies that push the limits of connectivity, acoustics, video and content distribution”.

High-tech innovations include a sound system that individually targets each seat, ensuring everyone hears the same performance, no matter their location, and – most strikingly – ultra-HD video screens that stretch across venue’s walls and ceilings, enveloping attendees in an immersive visual experience. The Vegas venue will also feature high-speed internet at every seat, allowing concertgoers to share their experience on social media and enabling interactive experiences with artists.

While the London venue is still in the early stages of planning, with no concrete details on capacity or design, the company confirms it will be based on the MSG Sphere concept.

MSG Sphere London will be located next to the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, east London, near the site of the 2012 Olympic games.

 


MSG says Sphere is a natural fit for EDM events

MSG says Sphere is a natural fit for EDM events


 

Madison Square Garden Company – which has long been rumoured to have an interest in London, and was believed to be in the running to buy the Olympia before its acquisition by German investors in April – has purchased nearly five acres of land in the area on which to construct the venue, says MSG CEO James Dolan.

“London is one of the world’s greatest cities, and we are delighted to be taking this first step towards making it the location for MSG’s first international venue,” he says.

The project will be overseen by Jayne McGivern, who joined MSG as executive vice-president, development and construction. McGivern’s previous executive roles have included spells as UK managing director of AEG and CEO of leading contractor Multiplex Europe, which built the new Wembley Stadium.

“We believe that a large-scale, next-generation venue will not only become a premier destination, but also drive growth in London’s overall music and entertainment market,” continues Dolan, “benefiting artists and fans and serving as a long-term investment in the future of this incredible city. MSG Sphere will provide a home where like-minded communities can come together to not only interact with the performance, but also with each other.”

“London is one of the world’s greatest cities, and we are delighted to be taking this first step towards making it the location for MSG’s first international venue”

Preliminary analysis by Ernst & Young shows MSG Sphere London will create approximately 3,200 new jobs annually, contribute £2.7bn to the UK economy over the initial 20 years of operations and generate additional revenues of more than £50m every year for local businesses.

McGivern tells IQ that since the closure of Earls Court (20,000-cap.) in 2014, London has been “underserved by big arenas” – a statement backed up by research undertaken by Sound Diplomacy which found London, Europe’s live music capital, has fewer large arenas relative to population size than other major cities, including Paris, Berlin, Madrid and New York.

Plans for a new arena in east London raise the prospect of an escalation of the much-publicised ‘venue war’ between MSG and The O2 operator AEG, although McGivern says MSG is focused on “growing the market” rather than taking market share from other operators. “It’s absolutely an opportunity to grow the market in London,” she explains. “Whenever we see new venues popping up, the market grows with them – just look at the Forum in LA.”

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says MSG’s confidence in the UK capital is further testament to London’s status as a “music powerhouse”. “From intimate grassroots music venues to spectacular arenas, London’s buzzing live music scene is world renowned,” he comments. “It’s great to welcome another world-class venue to the capital, to confirm London’s position as a music powerhouse and to boost still further our city’s thriving night-time economy.”

 


Audiences will be immersed in multi-sensory environments that can be "as large as the ocean"

Audiences will be immersed in multi-sensory environments that can be “as large as the ocean”


 

“It’s great news that the world-famous Madison Square Garden Company has chosen London to be home for its first international venue,” adds Britain’s secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, Matt Hancock. “This cements both the capital and UK’s reputation for leading the world in music and the creative industries.

“This groundbreaking arena in east London will not only create jobs, but help us continue to develop incredible artists, music and innovative technology that will give fans an amazing experience.”

In addition to its plans to build in London and Las Vegas, MSG’s venues include its flagship 20,000-cap. Madison Square Garden venue in New York, along with the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, California; the Chicago Theatre; and the Wang Theatre in Boston.

 


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CMA sides with AEG over O2 block booking

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has reportedly dismissed Live Nation’s complaint against AEG over its block booking of The O2 in London and Staples Center in Los Angeles, telling the former company it does not intend to open an investigation on competition grounds.

The complaint, lodged in August, related to AEG’s tit-for-tat ‘booking war’ with Azoff MSG Entertainment, led by former Live Nation executive chairman Irving Azoff, over a booking policy that forces artists who want to perform at AEG’s European venues, particularly the 20,000-cap. O2 Arena, to also play Staples Center (21,000-cap.) rather than MSG’s LA Forum (17,500-cap.).

Live Nation shops AEG to CMA – amid thaw in booking war?

According to AEG, the implementation of block booking between The O2 (pictured) and Staples Center was in response to Azoff MSG’s “aggressive practice of requiring artists to perform at the LA Forum in order to secure dates at Madison Square Garden” in New York – something denied by Azoff, who says both MSG and the Forum are open to anyone.

According to Billboard’s Dave Brooks, the CMA contacted both AEG and Live Nation last week to inform them it did not plan to investigate the complaint, as the dispute began in California and should be settled there.

“Following their consideration of Live Nation’s complaint regarding our joint booking policy, we can confirm that the UK Competition Authority [Competition and Markets Authority] has decided not to open an investigation,” says an AEG spokesperson. “We are pleased with the CMA’s decision – it is the conclusion we always expected them to reach.”

 


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MSG denies hiring anti-activist investor PR firm

Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has rebuffed reports it has hired a communications firm with a record of defending public companies against activist shareholders, amid suggestions by investors the company is underperforming financially.

The New York Post reported on Tuesday that MSG – whose venue portfolio includes Madison Square Garden (21,000-cap.) and Radio City Music Hall (6,015-cap.) in New York and the Forum (17,500-cap.) in Los Angeles – had enlisted the services of Teneo Holdings, whose most notable recent client is casino operator Caesars Entertainment, which faced a series of investor lawsuits before being given the go-ahead to emerge from bankruptcy in January.

The paper quoted a source saying Teneo’s supposed hiring was “absolutely about defence”, after prominent investor Samantha Greenberg told a hedge fund industry conference controlling shareholder James Dolan should consider spinning off MSG’s sports teams to boost the company’s share price and deliver more value to shareholders.

“Teneo was not hired to provide, and is not providing, services related to any shareholder matter”

However, in a statement issued yesterday afternoon MSG clarified that “Teneo was not hired to provide, and is not providing, services related to any shareholder matter”.

“MSG announced in mid-July that its long-time chief communications officer [Barry Watkins] was transitioning to a new role as senior adviser,” the statement continues. “Following this announcement, MSG hired Teneo to provide general communications and public relations support. The company is conducting a search for a replacement of its CCO.”

MSG’s Q4 2017 financial results showed a 40% increased in turnover to US$305.6m, although losses also widened, doubling to $92.5m.

 


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Live Nation shops AEG to CMA – amid thaw in booking war?

Just two days after Live Nation was itself accused of anti-competitive behaviour by the Association of Independent Festivals, the promotion giant has lodged a complaint with UK regulatory authorities against archrival AEG.

The complaint – to the Consumer and Markets Authority (CMA), which is currently investigating its proposed acquisition of Isle of Wight Festival – concerns AEG’s tit-for-tat ‘booking war’ with Azoff MSG Entertainment, led by former Live Nation executive chairman Irving Azoff, over a booking policy that forced artists who wanted to perform at several of its European venues, including The O2 in London, to also play Staples Center (21,000-cap.) in Los Angeles rather than MSG’s Forum (17,500-cap.)

A statement from AEG acknowledges that it has been requested to “provide information regarding our booking practices, which AEG will of course provide. We believe our responses will clarify some questions recently brought before them and will be sufficient to allow all parties to move on.”

According to AEG, the implementation of block-booking between The O2 and Staples Center was in response to Azoff’s “aggressive practice of requiring artists to perform at the LA Forum in order to secure dates at Madison Square Garden” in New York.

Azoff (pictured), however, now says that isn’t the case, telling Billboard yesterday: “A show can play Staples Center and still play the Garden. You might have to route around basketball and hockey, but you can still play the Garden no matter where you’ve played before.”

Following Azoff’s statement – and facing the prospect of investigation in the UK – AEG is also reportedly considering dropping the block-booking from its end.

“So, that settles the matter: AEG and MSG have open buildings”

“We have always been staunch advocates of artists having the freedom to play the venues they want to play,” an AEG official tells Billboard. “That choice was taken away when MSG, supported by others, implemented their restrictive practices forcing artists who wanted to play the Garden to play the Forum in LA.

“This past July, after protracted use and explicit adoption of these bullying booking policies by MSG with the collaboration of powerful actors in the market, we reluctantly implemented booking practices we felt necessary to protect our company including the artists we serve, our customers, the communities we operate in and our partners, but we have been very clear all along: if market conditions change, AEG will consider reverting to its previous long-standing position that its buildings are open to all artists.”

The AEG exec does, however, caution that Azoff must follow through on his promise if he expects AEG to do the same, adding: “The only thing that would make us happier than if Mr Azoff officially declared that MSG will no longer prevent artists from choosing Staples Center would be if they then actually follow through with it.”

Azoff later issued another statement declaring the matter settled. Speaking on behalf of himself and MSG owner James Dolan, he says: “We are thrilled that AEG has listened to the artists and is going to adopt the same booking policy as MSG. For the record, and at the risk of being redundant: MSG and the Forum are open buildings. We said it and we mean it. Just ask the artists like Katy Perry who played MSG and Staples.

“So, that settles the matter: AEG and MSG have open buildings.”

 


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LA booking war escalates with Jingle Ball move

In the latest twist in the ongoing ‘booking war’ between AEG and Azoff MSG Entertainment, iHeartMedia’s popular festive Jingle Ball concert in Los Angeles is moving venues: from AEG’s Staples Center to MSG’s Forum.

Azoff MSG Entertainment, a joint venture between Irving Azoff and Madison Square Garden Company, and AEG are currently embroiled in a tit-for-tat booking dispute, with both parties barring acts from playing some of their venues unless they play another: for example, MSG’s Forum (17,500-cap.) and Madison Square Garden and AEG’s Staples Center (21,000-cap.) and The O2 in London.

MSG struck the most recent blow, expanding its footprint in the greater New York area by agreeing a booking deal with New Jersey’s Prudential Center (19,500-cap.).

Azoff MSG Entertainment and AEG are currently embroiled in a tit-for-tat booking dispute

According to Variety, Jingle Ball – last year played by 13 major international acts, including Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Bruno Mars, Fifth Harmony and One Direction’s Niall Horan – will now take place at the Forum, in a reported multi-year deal.

Oak View Group, a venue development and investment firm backed by Azoff, last month acquired concert business title Pollstar – a move reportedly met with disappointment by AEG, which supplies box-office data to the magazine.

A similarly named but unrelated UK event, Jingle Bell Ball, is organised by Global’s Capital Radio and takes place at The O2.

 


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