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OVG’s Tim Leiweke predicts arena development boom

Oak View Group (OVG) chief Tim Leiweke says he has no plans to take the company public while predicting the next 20 years will see the greatest number of arena developments “in the history of the business”.

OVG, which was founded in 2015 by former AEG CEO Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff, oversees the operations of new venues such as Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center, UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York, and Moody Center in Austin, Texas, and Acrisure Arena in Palm Springs, California, as well as the Co-op Live development in Manchester, UK.

In a recent appearance on The Bob Leftsetz Podcast, Leiweke said the purpose of the Silver Lake-backed firm was to “think outside the box and be a positive disruption to the live industry”.

“OVG is a private company. I’m proud of that.” he said. “I hope we never go public. I don’t want to go public. My intention is never to sell the company. We have certain guiding principles and core values as a company. One of them is we don’t want to be public and don’t have any intention of ever being public. It’s not a quick spin. My daughter is one of the key executives here. She’s hopefully going to inherit this company and run it.

“My executive committee’s average age is in their 40s, so we’re built to be long term. We’re built to be private. We’re built to be generational – and that’s what we intend on doing.”

“There are billions and billions of people on the planet, but there are only probably 250 arenas that I would consider to be A-class, and even fewer stadiums”

Other OVG projects include Arena São Paulo in Brazil; CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore, FirstOntario Centre Arena in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; a new arena and entertainment district in Las Vegas, NV, and a new arena in Cardiff, Wales, UK. Pointing out that OVG had built the only seven new arenas to have opened in the last couple of years, Leiweke was critical of the existing standard of venues worldwide.

“There are billions and billions of people on the planet, but there are only probably 250 arenas that I would consider to be A-class, and even fewer stadiums,” said Leiweke. “Most of them aren’t very good. Most of them are very old. There are hundreds of arenas that are driving our industry as we know it today, but there are not very many arenas like we have in North America and the rest of the world.

“It is pretty shocking, but therein lies the opportunity, which is we’re going to see a huge explosion and a huge opportunity to build these world class arenas, and take what we’ve learned here… and be able to take that with us everywhere we go in the world.”

Leiweke went on to speak glowingly about MSG Entertainment’s Las Vegas Sphere project, which is set to open on 29 September with U2’s residency, U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At The Sphere.

“If you don’t think the industry is changing, then go look at what Jim Dolan’s building with Sphere, because it’s revolutionary. It’s masterful,” he said. “I don’t know how heck he came up with all of this [and I’m] not sure how the hell you pay for it. But what I know is he’s going to change our industry forever. And the minute that opens up in September we will never be the same.”

“If you look at how quickly it’s changing because of technology… we’re in a revolutionary moment in time”

He continued: “We spent $1.1 billion on Climate Pledge, Jim’s spending billions of dollars on the sphere. Steve Ballmer’s spending billions of dollars on the Intuit [Dome in Inglewood, California]. And if you look at how quickly it’s changing because of technology, and you look at how quickly it’s changing because of the customer experience – just things like engineering and acoustics and LED – we’re in a revolutionary moment in time.

“Even though there’s thousands of arenas, there’s very few new arenas outside of North America, and yet the demand has never been greater,” he said. “And I think you’re going to see the greatest amount of development of arenas in the history of the industry in these next 20 years.”

Last week it was revealed that OVG had won the contract to manage Chicago’s McCormick Place and Tulsa’s BOK Center, taking over from ASM Global, but Leiweke played down the rivalry between the two venue giants.

“I always remind our folks, stay focused on us,” he said. “We’re the greatest asset we have and we’re our own worst enemies. So stay focused on us. We’re going to be great, not because ASM is bad. We’re going to be great because OVG is going to excel.

“We bid on 33 accounts here in the last roughly six months. We won 30 of the bids. We don’t pay attention to the other guys. We stay focused on us. Our success is not because of their failure. We can both succeed and we both will succeed.”

“We hopefully are going to get an arena on the west side of London one day”

OVG has offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, Philadelphia and Toronto. Speaking about the company’s international ambitions, Leiweke revealed he had recently returned from a trip to Riyadh, predicting the Saudi Arabian capital would be “the centre of the universe” by 2030.

“I am shocked at the trillions and trillions of dollars they are putting into that country and rebuilding that country as quick as they are,” he said. “By 2030, Riyadh is going to be the centre of the universe… The arenas they’re building there, they’re off the charts. I’ve never seen anything like it. Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, Dubai – that whole world there is just amazing and it’s the centre of the universe.

“Let’s not forget they are right next to India, which is one of the fastest growing most important countries in the world. They’re right near Africa, and Africa is going to be a really critical part of the world and a part of our society that we need to pay attention to. Think of what Nigeria is doing to music today and the artists that are emerging and dominating our music from places like Lagos, so we’re going to build an arena in Lagos because that’s the future.”

He added: “We spend a lot of time in the UK – we hopefully are going to get an arena on the west side of London one day. We’re working on another project in Bristol, so we’re excited about that. We just won the bid in Vienna… We’re excited about Sao Paulo. You cannot ignore Brazil and the growth of that country. We’re trying to bid in Singapore because we we understand that part of the world is growing as well, so the majority of our growth is international.”


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The Eagles to end 52-year career with final tour

American rock band The Eagles are to end their 52-year career with one final tour, titled The Long Goodbye.

Initially, 13 shows have been announced but the tour is expected to continue into 2025, as “the band will perform as many shows in each market as their audience demands”.

The first set of dates on the Live Nation-promoted tour will kick off on 7 September at New York’s Madison Square Garden, visiting arenas across the US until 17 November.

The Eagles’ long-time contemporaries and fellow Hall of Famers, Steely Dan, will be supporting on the commemorative tour.

“The Eagles have had a miraculous 52-year odyssey, performing for people all over the globe; keeping the music alive in the face of tragic losses, upheavals and setbacks of many kinds,” reads a statement from the band. “Credit and thanks go to our longtime management team, our dedicated road crew, and our exceptional backup musicians for providing skilled and steadfast support, throughout these many years. We know how fortunate we are, and we are truly grateful”

“Our long run has lasted far longer than any of us ever dreamed”

“Our long run has lasted far longer than any of us ever dreamed. But, everything has its time, and the time has come for us to close the circle. We want to give all our fans a chance to see us on this final round. So, scheduling information will be released as dates are set. The difficulties of booking venues for multiple nights may require us to return to certain cities, depending on demand. But, we hope to see as many of you as we can, before we finish up. Most importantly, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for embracing this band and its music. At the end of the day, you are the reason we have been able to carry on for over five decades. This is our swan song, but the music goes on and on.”

Over the band’s more than 50 years of touring, the Eagles have performed more than 1,000 concerts around the world, accounting for more than 15 million tickets. Eagles’ tours have consistently ranked in the Top 10 of both concert industry publications, Billboard and Pollstar.

The Eagles have sold more than 150 million albums worldwide, scored six #1 albums, and topped the singles charts five times. They earned six GRAMMY Awards, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, in their very first year of eligibility, and received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2016.

The band’s Greatest Hits 1971-1977 is the best-selling album in history, with the RIAA certifying the collection at 38-times Platinum. Hotel California is the third best-selling U.S. album in history, certified 26-times Platinum. After its release in 1976, it topped the charts and earned two GRAMMY Awards for “New Kid In Town” and “Hotel California.”

The Eagles are represented by Irving Azoff. See the dates for The Long Goodbye below.

Thursday, September 7 New York, NY Madison Square Garden

Monday, September 11 Boston, MA TD Garden

Saturday, September 16 Newark, NJ Prudential Center

Wednesday, September 20 Belmont Park, NY UBS Arena

Thursday, October 5 Denver, CO Ball Arena

Monday, October 9 Indianapolis, IN Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Friday, October 13 Detroit, MI Little Caesars Arena

Tuesday, October 17 Cleveland, OH Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

Thursday, November 2 Atlanta, GA State Farm Arena

Tuesday, November 7 Charlotte, NC Spectrum Center

Thursday, November 9 Raleigh, NC PNC Arena

Tuesday, November 14 Lexington, KY Rupp Arena

Friday, November 17 St. Paul, MN Xcel Energy Center


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Touring powerhouses back Fair Ticketing Reforms

Live Nation, CAA, UTA, Wasserman Music and WME are among more than 20 music organisations to come out in support of ticketing reforms.

Fans & Artists Insisting on Reforms (FAIR) Ticketing is appealing for policymakers to combat ticket touts by giving artists the right to decide how their tickets can be sold, transferred and resold, and for speculative ticket selling and other deceptive practices used to sell tickets to be made illegal.

In addition, the coalition is demanding the expansion and and stricter enforcement of the 2016 BOTS Act and for resale sites that serve as a “safe haven” for touts – and knowingly sell tickets that are illegally acquired – to be fined.

Finally, it is calling for all-in pricing across all ticketing marketplaces introduced nationally so that fans know the full cost of a ticket plus fees right upfront.

“Bots and scalpers cause chaos in the current onsale process, leaving lots of fans disappointed,” says Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation, which launched the Fair Ticketing Act last month. “Artists are fiercely protective of their fans and we need to make sure laws help artists control their concert intellectual property and how their tickets are sold. That would be a big step forward in helping fans buy tickets at the prices artists set.”

“FAIR Ticketing reforms give more control over ticketing to the artists so they can get tickets to real fans and prevent unauthorised resellers from charging exponentially more than face value”

Other high-profile supporters of the reforms include The Azoff Company chair and CEO Irving Azoff, Wasserman Music EVP and managing executive Sam Hunt and WME global head of contemporary music Lucy Dickins.

“No one cares more about fans than the artists,” says Azoff. “FAIR Ticketing reforms give more control over ticketing to the artists so they can get tickets to real fans and prevent unauthorised resellers from charging exponentially more than face value. I hope Congress will pass legislation for the good of artists and their fans.”

“Ticketing can be a frustrating and confusing experience for fans, and technological advancements in the space often end up being double-edged swords,” says Hunt. “FAIR Ticketing reforms are a crucial leap toward creating a process that is equitable and transparent to all parties.”

Dickins adds: “There is no doubt that change is needed in the current ticketing ecosystem to protect our clients and their work. The FAIR Ticketing reforms would provide the necessary tools to empower artists and creators who know their fans best while putting an end to deceptive ticketing practices.”

The artist coalitions, management groups, music labels and agencies to have signed on to back the “artist and fan friendly reforms”, include the following:

724 Management
Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC)
Creative Artists Agency (CAA)
Crush Music
The Core Entertainment
Faculty Inc.
Full Stop Management
Gellman Management
Laffitte Management Group
Live Nation Entertainment
Music Artists Coalition (MAC)
Red Light Management
Songwriters of North America (SONA)
United Talent Agency (UTA)
Universal Music Group
Vector Management
Wasserman Music
Wolfson Entertainment Inc.


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Music industry heavyweights star at Pollstar Live!

Nearly 2,000 music industry professionals descended upon Los Angeles for the 2023 edition of Pollstar Live!

The three-day conference, which climaxes today at the Beverly Hilton, was hailed as the biggest in the event’s history by Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Pollstar‘s parent company Oak View Group (OVG).

In his opening address, Leiweke spoke of his pride at OVG’s multi-billion dollar investment in new venues, and noted it is opening its seventh building in the middle of a pandemic.

“Music is the future of our company, music is the future of this industry,” he said.

Ahead of the gathering’s standout Ticketing Real Talk panel, Leiweke also alluded to the US Senate’s investigation into the market, sparked by the controversy around the onsale for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.

“I think it is amazing to me that the politicians can take an issue like this and jump on it with such a lack of understanding about our business,” he said. “What they truly don’t get is that if you look at what the major issue we’re facing today with these big tours is demand, which is a wonderful thing that this many people want to go to your concerts, want to go to your venues, want to come join our industry to be a part of it.”

“The biggest issue now is that demand exceeds supply for many artists”

The subsequent panel was moderated by another business titan, Irving Azoff, and featured Madison Square Garden’s James Dolan, former attorney general for the US DoJ’s antitrust division Makan Delrahim, and best-selling artist Garth Brooks.

“The biggest issue now is that demand exceeds supply for many artists,” said Azoff. “Simple economics. More people want to see Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Adele, than there are tickets for sale. Unfortunately, that means they satisfy every fan that wants to see them.

“For instance, when Adele played Madison Square Garden, four million Adele fans logged on to buy 100,000 or so tickets. With some pretty simple math there, you arrive at over three million disappointed people. There’s not a congressional hearing in the world that fixes that reality. Demand exceeds supply. There is nothing that Ticketmaster, the building or the promoter can do to fix that.”

Meanwhile, winners at last night’s Pollstar Awards included Harry Styles (Major Tour of the Year), Austin City Limits (Festival of the Year: over 30k), Glastonbury (International Music Festival of the Year), Bridgestone Arena, Nashville (Arena of the Year), The O2, London (International Venue of the Year) and Josephine Vaccarello, Madison Square Garden (Venue Executive of the Year).

The victors also included Amy Corbin, C3 Presents (Talent Buyer of the Year), Louis Messina, Messina Touring Group (Bill Graham Award — Promoter of the Year), Arthur Fogel, Live Nation (International Promoter of the Year), Adam Kornfeld, Artist Group International (Bobby Brooks Award — Agent of the Year), Emma Banks, CAA (International Booking Agent of the Year) and CAA (Booking Agency of the Year).


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U2 to join the Azoffs’ Full Stop Management

U2 is reportedly joining Full Stop Management after nearly a decade with Madonna and Red Hot Chili Peppers manager Guy Oseary, according to Variety.

Founded in 2017 by Irving Azoff and his son Jeffrey, the US company’s clients include Harry Styles, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Lizzo, among many others. A rep for Full Stop had no comment on the news, which was first reported by Hits.

The news comes shortly after confirmation that Azoff is now involved in booking the MSG Sphere at the Venetian, Las Vegas, as part of his long-term consulting deal with MSG properties. U2 is scheduled to open the venue in November 2023.

The band started working with Oseary in 2013 after their longtime manager Paul McGuinness retired. Oseary managed U2 under the Live Nation-owned Maverick artist management collective for nearly a decade.

The news comes shortly after confirmation that Azoff is now involved in booking the MSG Sphere at the Venetian, Las Vegas

In 2020, he left Live Nation but agreed to continue to provide consulting services to CEO Michael Rapino, whose company now has 450 artists under management.

Despite switching management, U2 will continue working with Live Nation chairman of global touring and talent Arthur Fogel for all their touring plans, according to one source.

U2’s last big tour, the Experience + Innocence Tour in 2018, grossed $126.2 million from 924,000 tickets sold to 59 shows. Before that, the Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary Tour in 2017 grossed $390.8m with 3.3m tickets sold to 65 shows.

The band held the record for the highest-grossing tour of all time with its 360 Tour from 2009 to 2011, which generated $736.4m sales from 7.3m tickets sold to 110 shows. Ed Sheeran broke that record in 2019.

U2 is the second-highest grossing touring band of all time behind The Rolling Stones, according to Billboard Boxscore, topping $2.22 bn earned with 28.3m tickets sold. The two bands are the only acts ever to surpass the $2 bn-sales mark.


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Ben Lovett’s TVG raises $50m in new funding

Ben Lovett‘s TVG Hospitality has announced the closing of $50 million in new funding to expand its team and venue portfolio in the UK and US, backed by a heavyweight list of investors.

The financing round was led by Nat Zilkha and Gibson Brands, with music industry participants including C3 Presents, Irving Azoff and Oak View Group, Mike Luba and Don Sullivan, Justin Kalifowitz and Andrew Bergman, Coran Capshaw, Ron Laffitte, Lucy Dickins, Adam Tudhope and Tom Windish, and musicians Ryan Tedder, Maggie Rogers and Ted Dwane.

Founded by Mumford & Sons’ Lovett and his brother Greg Lovett, TVG currently operates three London venues, with multiple sites under development in the US, including the Orion Amphitheater in Huntsville, Alabama.

“Our passion at TVG, our defining character, is a deep-rooted belief in the value of communal spaces, gathering places where we can be reminded of our common ground and all that makes us human,” says Ben Lovett. “Music is the ultimate leveller – somewhere between melody and lyric is a truth that calls us away from our phones and out of our living rooms to stand together and sing together.

“The plans we have in mind are rooted in elevating these experiences surrounding live music. I am incredibly grateful for the investments from so many of our industry leaders. It furthers cements our belief that our new thinking is going to be game changing for artists, fans and communities alike.”

“Ben and his team are approaching the venue space in exactly the right way”

TVG is bidding to create the next generation of music venues alongside elevated hospitality offerings in order to enhance the artist and fan experience and create gathering spaces as community assets. The company’s current portfolio includes London music venues, Omeara, Lafayette and the Social, and broader hospitality offerings at Flat Iron Square and Goods Way.

“We are thrilled to be working with TVG on this next chapter of their venues.” says Irving Azoff, chairman/CEO, The Azoff Company and co-founder, Oak View Group. “Ben and his team are approaching the venue space in exactly the right way – you have to put the artist and the fan at the centre of every thought process. That’s the key and TVG are both artists and fans whilst also knowing a thing or two about hospitality. We hope to support them on their mission in any way we can.”

Funding was also provided by leading entrepreneurs and hospitality industry leaders including Jen Rubio and Stewart Butterfield, Joe Gebbia, Olga Segura, Tom Kartsotis, Samantha Marquart, Brent Montgomery, Ann Berry, Bippy Siegal, and Dani Ricciardo, as well as investors such as LionTree, Goldman Sachs, John Howard, Pete Muller and multiple partners from KKR.

The company is partnering with the City of Huntsville, Alabama on the 8,000-cap Orion Amphitheater to be opened in May. TVG will also operate a food village next to the venue and another venue located in downtown Huntsville called Meridian Social Club at The Lumberyard, which will open this summer. TVG is also developing projects in Washington DC, London, Nashville, Austin, Detroit, New York and Los Angeles.

“We have purposefully built a leadership team with extensive experience across music, hospitality, real estate and finance”

In addition, the firm has expanded its leadership team, adding Jesse Mann (formerly SVP, strategy and operations, AC Entertainment/Live Nation), Dan Pine (ex-MD at Marathon Asset Management and development partner to the Related Companies), and Lisa Seelinger (formerly head of People for Bergdorf Goodman and Maybourne Hotel Group).

“We have purposefully built a leadership team with extensive experience across music, hospitality, real estate and finance,” adds chairman David Lovett, Ben and Greg’s father, and co-founder and former vice chairman of Alix Partners in Europe. “We are building our company like we create our venues, with intention, so that our assets and TVG become valuable and sustainable parts of each of the communities in which we operate.”

Speaking to IQ last year, Ben Lovett said: “One of the things that we learned was that you need to build a whole ecosystem. There’s no point having just one big venue so bands from out of town come and play a handful of times, you’ve got to nurture local grassroots talent.”


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Irving Azoff ‘hopeful’ for return to live in July

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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The decade in live: 2012

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.

As in the previous 12 months, 2012 saw the live music industry still grappling with the effects of the global economic crisis, with many countries just beginning to clamber out of recession and others heading for dreaded ‘double dips’.

This continuing economic uncertainty naturally bit into the leisure spend of discriminating ticket buyers with a variety of entertainment options – though the world did not, as predicted by some long-dead Mexicans, come to an end.

Elsewhere, the weather gods interfered with yet more festivals, while Hurricane Sandy had a devastating effect on the industry in the New York area. In the UK, meanwhile, the Olympics scored on many levels, but provided far too much competition for many.


2012 in numbers

The top 50 worldwide tours grossed a combined US$3 billion in 2012, according to Pollstar, down around 2% from $3.07bn in 2011.

Madonna’s MDNA tour was the clear No1, grossing $296.1 million, ahead of second-placed Bruce Springsteen, whose E Street Band earned $210.2m. Both acts played to more than 2m fans worldwide 2012.

Roger Waters’ The Wall generated $186.4m to come in at No3, and was also the highest-ranking hold-over from the 2011 chart, where he placed No5 with a gross of $103.6 million.

Reflecting the lingering impact of the financial crisis, the total tickets sold by the top 50 tours was 34.9m, which continued the decline from 35.5m the previous year (and well off the pace from 2009, when the top 50 sold 45.3 million, says Pollstar).


2012 in brief

FKP Scorpio buys a stake in Utrecht-based booking agency and artist management company Friendly Fire.

Touring festival Big Day Out calls time on its New Zealand leg after promoter Ken West admits that falling audience numbers have made the Auckland show unviable.


Madonna sparks controversy when she tells Newsweek  magazine fans should “work all year, scrape the money together” for a $300 ticket to her MDNA tour.

Private-equity firm CVC Asia Pacific puts its Australian ticketing company, Ticketek, and Sydney’s Allphones Arena up for a sale in a bid to reduce a A$2.7bn (€2.1bn) debt run-up by Nine Entertainment, which owns the assets.

Stuart Galbraith buys out AEG’s 50% stake in Kilimanjaro Live for an undisclosed sum. Both parties say they will continue to work together on events in future. (Kili later cancels the 2012 edition of Sonisphere at Knebworth, which was to have featured Kiss, Faith No More and Marilyn Manson.)

Ebay-owned secondary ticketing service, StubHub, launches operations in the UK and admits it is looking at further expansion across Europe.

Roger Waters's The Wall tour was the third most lucrative of 2012

Roger Waters’s The Wall tour was the third most lucrative of 2012 (© Brennan Schnell/Eastscene.com/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0))

Serbian authorities arrest the venue owner and other individuals following a fire at the Contrast nightclub in Novi Sad that leaves six people dead.

Tupac Shakur, who died 15 years previous, is the main talking point at Coachella, as a multimillion-dollar hologram of the rapper appears on stage alongside Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg.

Viagogo raises eyebrows by shifting its operational base from the UK to Switzerland, amid speculation it wants to resell tickets for the Olympic Games without falling foul of British law.

Investment firm Silver Lake Partners completes a transaction to acquire a 31% stake in William Morris Endeavor.

Former AEG Germany CEO Detlef Kornett forms a venue consultancy, Verescon, with DEAG with Peter Schwenkow.

Swedish telecom operator Tele2 pays an undisclosed sum to secure naming rights for Stockholm’s new 40,000-capacity stadium, operated by AEG.

Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield and Dizzee Rascal performed at the London 2012 opening ceremony
Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield and Dizzee Rascal performed at the London 2012 opening ceremony (© Matt Deegan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0))

Live Nation appoints former CAA exec David Zedeck to the role of executive VP and president of global talent and artist development.

Artists including Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield, Dizzee Rascal and Emeli Sandé are each paid £1 for their performances at the Olympics opening ceremony. The show attracts 26.9m viewers in the UK alone, and billions more worldwide.

Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot are jailed for two years each, after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

AEG drops its claim against Lloyd’s of London on a multimillion-dollar insurance policy, following the death of Michael Jackson.

C3 Presents’ Lollapalooza debuted in Brazil in AprilC3 Presents’ Lollapalooza debuted in Brazil in April (© Henrique Oli/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0))

Glastonbury Festival takes just 100 minutes to sell out all 135,000 tickets for next summer’s event, despite not naming a single act on the 2013 bill.

C3 Presents extends an arrangement with Globo Organization’s GEO for more events in Brazil, following a successful Lollapalooza.

AEG is awarded the contract to take over shows at London’s prestigious Hyde Park, ending Live Nation’s decade-long relationship with the 80,000-capacity space.

Frank Barsalona, founder of Premier Talent, dies aged 74. Premier was the first agency to work exclusively with rock artists, with clients including the Yardbirds, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, U2 and Van Halen.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a number of bidders are in contention to acquire AEG, despite a reported $10bn asking price.

Irving Azoff unexpectedly resigns as chairman of Live Nation and CEO of its Front Line Management Group, to concentrate on his own artist management company.


Whitney Houston

Who we lost

Notable industry deaths in 2012 included South by Southwest creative director Brent Grulke, Lasse Ollsen of Swedish promoter Viva Art Music, Jon Lord of Deep Purple, Armin Rahn, founder of Munich-based Armin Rahn Agency and Management, Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson, Perth Arena general manager David Humphreys, R&B legend Etta James, pop powerhouse Whitney Houston, the Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb, disco diva Donna Summer, the Monkees’ Davy Jones and legendary agents Armin Rahm and Frank Barsalona.


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The decade in live: 2011

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 the 2010 synopsis, IQ looks to 2011, a year in which rising unemployment and astronomical national debts continued to take its toll on spending habits. The live industry experienced a slower period, indicating signs of maturity after years of fast growth.

Extreme weather led to festival cancellations and, tragically, the loss of lives at Pukkelpop and Indiana State Fair. Festival attendance, however, stayed strong, with festival bosses commenting that the demand for festivals was definitely still there.

2011 also saw U2 take the crown for the most successful concert tour in history, dethroning the Rolling Stones with their mammoth 360° tour. The Irish rockers were on course to retain the record into the new decade, too, before Ed Sheeran came along.


2011 in numbers

Worldwide, the top 50 tours grossed US$3.07 billion in 2011, up from $2.9bn the previous year.

According to Pollstar, U2 were the most successful band of 2011. A back injury sustained by Bono in 2010 saw many dates on the 360° tour postponed to the following year, with the band selling 2.4 million tickets over the year – at an average price of $97 each.

The stadium tour, which typically drew crowds of almost 92,000 per show, grossed $231.9m in 2011, adding to the $133.6m earned on the 2010 leg.

Other major tours of 2011 included Take That’s reunion tour with Robbie Williams ($224m), the Bon Jovi Live tour ($148.8), Taylor Swift’s Speak Now tour ($104.2m) and Roger Waters’ The Wall Live tour ($103.6m).


2011 in brief

AEG opens the 52,000-cap. Türk Telekom Arena in Istanbul, later winning the contract to manage the 12,500-cap. Ülker Arena in the same city.

Serbia’s Exit Festival ends its business relationship with Charmenko agency and begins booking international artists directly.

Ticketmaster buys Spanish ticketing company ServiCaixa, allowing it to sell tickets through over 8,000 ATMs owned by financial services company and bank La Caixa.

Live Nation takes full control of Front Line Management, with its founder Irving Azoff becoming chairman of the Live Nation board, taking over from Liberty Media’s John Malone.

Nelly Furtado announces she is giving the $1m fess she was paid for performing in front of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi in 2007 to charity. Beyoncé follows suit.

President of Madison Square Garden Jay Marciano moves to London to take up a new role as CEO of AEG Europe.

The decade in live: 2011

Irving Azoff took over as Live Nation chairman in 2011 (© Full Stop Management)

International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) figures show that global music sales fell $1.4bn in 2010, with the UK market dropping 11%, the US dropping 10% and Japan dropping 8.3%.

U2’s 360° tour becomes the highest-grossing tour of all time, beating the Rolling Stones’ Bigger Bang tour record of $554m. 360° is set to gross over $700m by the time it ends.

US ticketing company Eventbrite, which integrates social media and mobile, announces a $50m influx of venture-capital finance.

Gil Scott-Heron dies in New York at the age of 62.

German festival promoter Folkert Koopmans announces his second Swedish festival in Norrköping, the 50,000-cap. Bråvalla Festival, following the January acquisition of Hultsfred Festival.

Bloomberg reports that AEG plans to refinance the O2 Arena in London with a £150m ($240m) loan and equity injection.

The decade in live: 2011

U2’s record-breaking 360° tour (resized) © Kristian Strøbech/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Promoter Vince Power raises £6.5m ($10.4m) by floating his company, Music Festivals, on London’s Alternative Investment Market exchange.

SMG secures a management contract for Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile, its first in South America.

AEG launches its new ticketing system, AXS, in several Denver and San Francisco theatres. The system includes a mobile app and social media integration.

Belgium’s Pukkelpop creates a private foundation to support the victims of the storm that claimed five lives at the festival on 19 August.

Global entertainment giant Vivendi buys UK number two ticketer See Tickets for a sum thought to be around £80m ($128m).

eBay announces it will launch secondary resale platform StubHub in the UK, the first market it will have operated in outside of the US.

The decade in live: 2011

Santiago’s Movistar Arena (© Movistar Arena)

German powerhouse FKP Scorpio continues its buying spree by taking a majority stake in Sweden’s Getaway Festival.

2011’s biggest-selling artist, Adele, undergoes throat surgery to repair damaged vocal chords, forcing her to cancel all remaining tour dates and promotional appearance for the year.

Bankers Citigroup agree to sell EMI Music to Universal Music Group for $1.9bn, while EMI Music Publishing will become part of Sony ATV in a $2.2bn deal.

Michael Jackson’s physician, Dr Conrad Murray, is found guilty of manslaughter.


Live Nation emerges victorious in the saga for the rights to run the new €134m 15,000-capacity arena in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Seatwave chief Joe Cohen denies speculation the ticket resale company is in financial trouble, despite reports it has amassed losses of €40m since 2007.


The decade in live: 2011

Amy Winehouse (1983-2011) © Republic Records (cropped)

Who we lost

In 2011, the music industry lost a number of important figures, including Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty, 63; agent Ron Baird, who opened CAA’s Nashville office in 1991, 60; legendary soul and jazz musician Gil Scott Heron, 62; Willie Robertson, co-founder of insurance specialist Robertson Taylor, 67; award-winning singer Amy Winehouse, 27; Academy Music Group founder John Northcote, 62.


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NEC Group joins OVG’s International Venue Alliance

Oak View Group (OVG) has welcomed the UK’s NEC Group to its newly formed International Venue Alliance, making the Birmingham-based venue operator the second founding member of the alliance, behind Silverstone Circuit.

The International Venue Alliance, which launched last week, is modelled on OVG’s US Arena and Stadium Alliance which comprises 28 arenas. OVG plans to make further announcements around the growth of its international alliance in the coming weeks.

The NEC Group’s membership in the alliance covers the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, along with the four other venues: the International Conference Centre (8,000-cap.), the Vox (900-cap.), Resorts World Arena (15,685-cap.) and Arena Birmingham (15,800-cap.). The partnership will focus on helping the NEC drive new commercial partnerships across the venues.

“It’s very exciting to have NEC on board,” says Sam Piccione, OVG’s international president. “We’ll be partnering with them as an extension to their talented sales team to find the right naming rights partner for the NEC and Arena Birmingham.

“We will also help them maximise new and unique commercial opportunities and additional revenue through driving content and leveraging our platform,” says Piccione, adding that the NEC, which was acquired by US private-equity firm the Blackstone Group in 2018, is a “first class organisation with strong leadership” that plays a “vital role” in hosting live events.

“The NEC Group really recognises the mutual benefits of the Venue Alliance and will be putting plans in place to work in true partnership from the start”

“As the Venue Alliance grows, we’ll continue to help our members in areas that are important to them and the overall business, which will extend to everything from ticketing and premium hospitality strategy, event scheduling, and unique sponsorship opportunities,” says Piccione.

NEC Group’s chairman of arenas and ticketing, Phil Mead, comments: “The NEC Group really recognises the mutual benefits of the Venue Alliance and will be putting plans in place to work in true partnership from the start.

“As a first step, we’re looking forward to dovetailing our NEC Group commercial team with the Venue Alliance team to extend the reach and resource applied to commercial rights sales. We are equally optimistic that further value will be added to our events programming through the Venue Alliance.”

The partnership is the latest in a series of developments for OVG, which launched its UK-based international division in March; announced its first European venue – the Santa Giulia arena in Milan in June; and confirmed its interest in building a major new concert venue in Manchester in August.

Oak View Group, a venue development, advisory and investment company was co-founded in 2015 by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff.


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