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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

January
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.

February

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.

March
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))

April
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.

May
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.

June
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))

July
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.

August
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.

September
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))

October
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.

November
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.

December
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

January
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.

February
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.

March
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)

April
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.

May
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.

June
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)

July
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.

August
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.

September
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)

October
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.

November
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.

December

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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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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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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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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It’s official: Oak View Group acquires Pollstar

Irving Azoff and Tim Leiweke’s Oak View Group (OVG) has completed its long-rumoured acquisition of Pollstar, adding the US-based concert business title to its portfolio of trade magazines.

The buy-out of Pollstar follows OVG’s acquisitions of SportTechie last November and Venues Today in December, and was announced at Venues Today’s inaugural VenuesNow conference in LA yesterday.

In addition to its weekly magazine and daily news service at Pollstar.comPollstar’s assets include its box-office database, which provides information on tour ticket sales and grosses, annual year-end reports and the annual Pollstar Live! conference in the US.

Speaking at VenuesNow, Leiweke said: “Pollstar has represented the voice of record for the live music and ticketing industries for over three decades, and bringing them into the OVG family is a true honour for all of us. Working hand in hand with Pollstar’s leadership team, we’ll look to greatly optimise the reach of its print, digital and conference assets.”

Pollstar president/editor-in-chief Gary Bongiovanni and CEO Gary Smith will remain in their positions under the new management.

“Working hand in hand with Pollstar’s leadership team, we’ll look to greatly optimise the reach of its print, digital and conference assets”

Oak View Group (OVG), a venue development and investment vehicle founded by former Live Nation chairman Azoff and ex-AEG CEO Tim Leiweke, was launched in November 2015. It comprises five divisions: the 26-member Arena Alliance; Narrative Partners, a sponsorship/partnership operation; Prevent Advisors, its security advisory arm; OVG Consulting, whose services include venue design and seating, branding and ticketing strategy; and the OVG Ventures venture-capital fund.

Azoff is also a partner in Azoff MSG Entertainment, a joint venture with Madison Square Garden Company. The company is currently embroiled in a public ‘booking war’ with rival venue operator AEG, with both parties barring acts from playing some of their venues unless they tie it in with a show at another: for example, MSG’s LA Forum and Madison Square Garden and AEG’s Staples Center and The O2.

“We are very excited to become part of the growing OVG family and its vast array of worldwide resources,” said Bongiovanni. “After 35 years of independent operation, a key factor in our making the deal was OVG’s understanding of the importance of keeping our editorial coverage and services neutral as we speak to, and for, the entire concert industry.”

Pollstar has served our industry as a trusted and invaluable resource during an era where music and ticketing have evolved dramatically,” added Azoff. “Their insights and analysis are fundamental to the success of our business and we’re looking forward to growing the brand’s influence and impact for years to come.”

 


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