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Jay Marciano confirmed for ILMC Breakfast Meeting

AEG Presents chairman and CEO Jay Marciano has been confirmed for The (Late) Breakfast Meeting at ILMC 36.

One of the most respected executives in the entertainment industry today, Marciano is responsible for overseeing AEG’s tour and concert promotion, facilities, and digital divisions (including AXS).

He oversees a portfolio of over 100 live music venues; global tours for artists such as Taylor Swift, Elton John, Blackpink, the Rolling Stones and Justin Bieber; and festivals including Coachella, BST Hyde Park, Electric Forest, All Points East and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Having held senior leadership roles at Universal Concerts, Madison Square Garden Entertainment, and having previously run AEG’s European operations, Marciano is an executive with keen international awareness, and a clear vision of where the business is headed.

ILMC 36’s (Late) Breakfast Meeting will also be the last, with host Ed Bicknell hanging up his microphone after 22 years in the role. During his tenure, Bicknell has interviewed some of the biggest names in the music business across management, promotion, agencies and the artist fraternity, including Irving Azoff, Roger Daltrey, Nile Rodgers, Emma Banks, Arthur Fogel, Paul McGuinness, Marc Geiger and many more.

Bicknell is a highly successful music manager best known for working with Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, Gerry Rafferty, Bryan Ferry, Scott Walker and The Blue Nile.

“I’m thrilled to return to ILMC and look forward to a lively conversation with Ed”

“With Ed’s humour, candour and expert knowledge of the business, the Breakfast Meeting interviews have been a highlight of ILMC’s programme for two decades, so it’s immensely fitting that we bring the series to a close with Jay; one of live music’s most highly respected individuals,” says ILMC head Greg Parmley.

“I’m thrilled to return to ILMC and look forward to a lively conversation with Ed,” says Marciano. “It’s a monumental time for our business, and while it’s always nice to get together as an industry and talk about where we’ve been, I think the most critical issue to address is where we are going. I hope to be able to bring that to centre stage at the Breakfast Meeting. Wait! Do promoters actually eat breakfast?!”

Bicknell adds: “After 22 years of vibrant, exciting, intellectually stimulating and occasionally humorous banter from me it’s time to wrap it up. And as Jay’s keen to explore where we’re all going, I’m hoping he brings a map!”

The (Late) Breakfast Meeting takes place at 4.45pm on Thursday 29 February 2024 as part of the 36th International Live Music Conference (ILMC). The conference will welcome over 1,400 of the world’s top live music professionals from over 50 countries to the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London from 27 Feb-1 March.

Full information about ILMC 2024, The Arthur Awards, Futures Forum, London Calling and the new Touring Entertainment LIVE day is at 36.ilmc.com.


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AEG Presents ups Rich Schaefer to president, global touring

AEG Presents has promoted Rich Schaefer to president of global touring, following the departure of Gary Gersh.

Schaefer will oversee all aspects of the company’s worldwide touring deals, operations, and talent relations, and will report to Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO of AEG Presents and COO of AEG.

He will also be joining the company’s executive committee in conjunction with his promotion.

Schaefer previously held the title of senior vice president, global touring, and joined AEG Presents in 2018 to help build and develop the newly created division.

According to the company, he has played a key role in many of AEG Presents’ touring partnerships, having helped sign and promote artists such as Kane Brown, Kacey Musgraves, Zach Bryan, Leon Bridges, Carin Leon, Hugh Jackman, Tame Impala, and Maggie Rogers, among others.

“Rich has a wealth of experience across every level of the concert business”

“Rich has a wealth of experience across every level of the concert business,” says Marciano. “His rapport with artists, managers and agents, along with his attention to detail and follow-through, have made him a critical member of our team. I’m thrilled to elevate him to president of global touring.”

Schaefer adds: “I am very excited to step into this new role leading global touring, and I’m extremely grateful for the support from Jay and everyone at AEG Presents. Our priority is to continue executing at the highest level for our clients, their teams and fans.”

Schaefer was a co-founder of LoyalT Management before joining AEG Presents. A New York native, Schaefer will continue to work out of the company’s offices there.

AEG Presents’ Global Touring team has promoted tours for Elton John, Blackpink, Tyler, The Creator, Luke Combs, Journey, $uicideboy$, John Mellencamp and more.


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Gary Gersh steps down at AEG Presents

Gary Gersh, president of global touring at AEG Presents, plans to step down after eight years at the company.

His departure was announced by AEG Presents chairman Jay Marciano, who broke the news to AEG staff in a memo.

Gersh’s former role will be filled by Rich Schaefer, who is currently the company’s senior vice president of global touring.

In his own letter addressed to staff, Gersh said: “I have made the very difficult choice to step away from my position here at AEG Presents. This was not a decision I came to lightly, as working alongside everyone at this company these past eight years has been a career highlight for me, but I’m excited about the prospects ahead and look forward to us crossing paths again in the future… I couldn’t be more proud to place the global touring division in the very capable hands of my longtime friend and partner in business Rich Schaefer.”

“This was not a decision I came to lightly, as working alongside everyone at this company has been a career highlight for me”

Marciano added: “Gary played a vital role in the development and growth of global touring; his energy, passion and initiative helped nurture an embryonic idea into a powerhouse team that has made a substantial impact on both our business specifically and the industry as a whole.”

Commenting on Schaefer’s new role, Marciano said: “Rich, who has been SVP of the division since joining the company in 2018, has an extensive resume and years of experience beyond his current duties here. He started his career in artist development at a record label before moving into management, where he spent two decades working across all aspects of artists’ careers while also developing a speciality in touring. He brings a thorough understanding of our business to the job and is looking forward to hitting the ground running and executing at the highest level on behalf of both global touring and AEG Presents. Rich will continue to be based out of New York, but we should all expect to be seeing more of him in Los Angeles.”

Gersh joined AEG in 2015 but he began his career in the 1980s, serving as an A&R exec at Geffen Records, where he played a key role in signing artists such as Sonic Youth and Nirvana to the label.

During the 1990s, Gersh led Capitol Records and launched G.A.S Entertainment with John Silva. A veteran talent manager, Gersh also led The Artist Organization, representing artists such as Lenny Kravitz and John Legend.


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AEG Presents forms Climate Positive Touring group

AEG Presents is forming a team of industry professionals from production, marketing, and operations dedicated to ‘moving the live business towards a greener future’.

The team, dubbed Climate Positive Touring (CPT), comprises staffers who work across various business divisions of AEG Presents including Concerts West, Global Touring, International Touring, Marshall Arts, Messina Touring Group, and AEG Global Partnerships.

Reducing tour-related carbon emissions, supporting locally led environmental and climate justice programmes, and creating impact on both the operating and consumer-side of touring are at the top of the group’s agenda.

“AEG Presents has the ability and structure to really make a global impact in moving our entire business – which has had a traditionally significant carbon footprint – toward a zero-emissions future,” says Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO, AEG Presents.

“AEG Presents has the ability and structure to really make a global impact in moving our entire business”

“The company’s reach enables us to execute at every level of the live experience: from clubs and theatres to arenas, global tours, and festivals. I’m looking forward to seeing how the CPT group begins to implement their plans as the business starts to reopen this year.”

Jointly leading CPT is AEG Presents’ Amy Morrison, who adds: “With light at the end of the tunnel, we feel it’s the right time to announce CPT and our short- and long-term strategies. We’ve been working on this since the earliest days of the shutdown. Now that live music is coming back, we can put our goals into action. As promoters, we will literally put our message on the road, modelling achievable sustainability, with the power of music in our sails.”

CPT has already deployed two major initiatives: the Venue Environmental Survey and the CPT Green Touring Guide.

The survey will gather data that allow venues, artists and CPT to work together to identify sustainability priorities and solutions while the touring guide is to provide guidance and insights that promoters can utilise in the hopes of showing both venues and artists a path forward to net zero or better carbon emissions.

“The company’s reach enables us to execute at every level of the live experience”

The first installment of the guide, titled The Starting Seven, is a compendium of seven actions promoters can take to start to make a positive environmental impact.

CPT is co-headed by Amy Morrison and Nicole Neal, who are joined by Jon Baden, Amy Buck, Caroline Burruss, Kelly DiStefano, Kate Lewis, Mike Luba, Ben Martin, Alexandra McArthur, Kate McMahon, David Rappaport, and Connie Shao.

CPT works in collaboration with AEG 1Earth, AEG’s corporate sustainability program.

The news of CPT comes shortly after Earth Day (22 April), when a host of new initiatives were announced, including a special summer edition of the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) and Live Nation’s new Green Nation Touring Program.

GEI, the leading conference for sustainability in the international events sector, will hold its summer edition on 16 September 2021. Tickets are on sale now.


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ILMC 33: The Open Forum reflects on the year that wasn’t

Fresh off the back of the worst year in the history of the live music business, a quartet of industry titans put their heads together to figure out where we go from here for ILMC’s traditional opening session, the Open Forum, which moved to a mid-afternoon time slot for this year’s one-off digital edition.

Live Nation’s executive president of international touring, Phil Bowdery, kicked off the panel in a different way to usual. “We normally start off this session by talking about the year’s biggest grosses,” he said, before asking panellists how they’d spent the past year in the absence of selling hundreds of thousands of tickets.

Emma Banks, agent and co-head of CAA in the UK, summed up the mood when she said “we’ve all been busy fools”, rearranging tours and shows with no knowledge of when live music might be able to return. “Anybody that claims they know when we’ll be able to do international tours, they know something the rest of the world does not,” echoed Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group. “This thing has its own path of destruction it has to reap, and we’re going to have to be patient.”

When the time is right, “we have to open up globally,” said Jay Marciano, CEO of AEG Presents. “There was a time last year when everyone was experimenting but socially distanced shows, but at 50% [capacity] we realised we’d basically paid for the lights and the stagehands and then not made any money. And it takes away from the live experience.”

Referring to the number of fans who have kept their tickets for postponed events, Marciano added that he’s been struck by “how patient our fans have been”.

“I want to open up – I have $5 billion invested in nine new arenas. But in order to open up we have to have an agreement [as to when], because if one of us opens up too early it’ll affect the rest of us, too.”

“We’re still losing 2,000 people a day in the United States to this virus. So we need to hunker down” until it’s safe to reopen, he added.

“I’ve never seen this kind of demand … We’re going to get through this”

While “Covid has been horrendous”, there have been upsides to 2020’s time out, said Banks. “One thing that has been good is no planes – hopefully that’s been helping the planet we’ve been wrecking,” she explained. “Travel represents a tiny amount of carbon emissions, but – without taking away the gig – what we’ve learnt with Zoom, Webex, Teams, etc., is that we don’t need all the meetings we have, which we fly all over the world for often, often only for a day. We need to rethink what we’re doing.”

She also highlighted that artists have had time for other projects, whether its working on a book or starting a podcast, because they haven’t been on the road.

Both Leiweke and Marciano also pointed to advances in new technology such as 5G while touring has been on pause. “Technology didn’t take a year and a half off,” said Leiweke. When shows return, “we’re going to be see brand-new technology that will enhance the experience but won’t replace it”, he added.

Whenever it is live returns, none of the panellists were in any doubt about fans’ continued passion for live music, referencing the incredible pent-up demand for shows that has been building throughout 2020/21.

“There’s a whole load of catching up to do,” said Banks. “But it will be OK.”

“I’ve never seen this kind of demand. [For 2021] we have 180 holds in our new arena in New York already,” added Leiweke. “We’re going to get through this.”

Tickets for ILMC 33, which include all panels available to watch back until 5 April 2021, are still available. Click here for more information.


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AEG announces layoffs, furloughs

Live entertainment powerhouse AEG is implementing staff layoffs, furloughs and salary reductions as part of a Covid-19 cost-cutting plan.

The company, whose CEO Dan Beckerman notified employees of the measures on Monday (8 June), is enacting the measures across all parts of the business from 1 July, including concert and festival promoter AEG Presents.

In a separate message, AEG Presents chairman and CEO Jay Marciano stated that those affected would be provided with “the best safety net” possible.

“I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that, just a few short months ago, nobody in our business – or any business – could have predicted where we would be today. The world has changed with an impact and scope that’s impossible to fathom,” wrote Marciano in a memo obtained by Variety.

“Simply put, we will reopen when we are confident that it is safe to do so”

“I wish I could tell you when it will be safe to reopen. At present, it appears large-scale events – the core of our business – will be the last to reopen. We will continue to monitor this daily, but the health and safety of our employees, artists and fans remains our highest priority.

“Simply put, we will reopen when we are confident that it is safe to do so.”

AEG joins live companies including Paradigm Talent Agency, WME, Eventbrite, Cirque du Soleil and TicketSwap to lay off staff due to the coronavirus shutdown, while many more industry professionals are temporarily furloughed.


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Decade’s End: Jay Marciano on 10 years at the sharp end

As we enter the new decade, IQ caught up with leaders from the global live music business to reflect upon the development of the industry over the past ten years, as well as looking forward to what we can expect in the 2020s.

Following yesterday’s Q&A with UTA’s Neil Warnock, in the hot seat today is Jay Marciano, COO of AEG and chairman/CEO of AEG Presents. IQ quizzes him on the biggest changes of the 2010s and his personal highlights, as well as the venue of the future…


IQ: This decade is ending with a long list of new buildings slated for development internationally. What does the venue of the next decade look like?
JM: Form follows function.

From the artist’s perspective: Robust production capabilities, flexible, artist-friendly features.

From the fan’s perspective: Emphasis on a warm environment that has great audio fidelity, superior service, multiple food and drink options, features for every price point.

Consolidation has been a constant theme of this decade. Looking ahead, how do you see the balance between the industry’s key corporations and the remaining independent players?
The major companies need to provide excellent administrative functions, build out and maintain ticketing and digital marketing capabilities, and provide growth capital in an environment that allows our promoters to provide artists and audiences with the excellent personalised and creative service that independents are known for.

What, in your opinion, are the most significant developments (positive and/or negative) in the live music industry over the past ten years?
Unlocking what was, for four decades, a static box-office gross. Dynamic price points which allows artists to fully capture the true gross at all levels.

Streaming has helped artists create global fan bases in ways we never dreamed of

Digital marketing, data capture and mobile ticketing. We are on the precipice of a truly personalised marketing and ticketing experience that will benefit the concertgoer while creating new revenue opportunities and increasing consumption.

Streaming. This has already helped create more new artists than any other time in the history of pop music. Streaming has helped artists create global fan bases in ways we never dreamed of just ten years ago.

What are your own personal highlights from the last decade?
The sheer amount of new talent. It has been exhilarating just trying to keep up!

Looking ahead, what do you perceive will be the biggest challenges for the live music sector in the 2020s?
Any downturn in the global economy.


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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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End of the indies: Frontier announces JV with AEG

AEG Presents, the world’s second-largest concert business, has joined forces with Frontier Touring, the leading promoter in Australasia, announcing a strategic joint venture that will see the two companies merge their operations in Australia and New Zealand.

The partnership, which follows Frontier’s recent merger with Michael Chugg’s Chugg Entertainment, combines “Frontier Touring’s broad regional expertise with AEG Presents’ extensive resources, and will continue to grow both companies’ presence throughout the Asia-Pacific region”, according to a joint statement.

After Live Nation, US-based AEG Presents (formerly AEG Live) is the #2 concert/festival promoter globally, according to Pollstar, with Frontier placing seventh, with nearly 2.3 million tickets sold, in 2018. The two companies have co-promoted a number of tours in Australia and New Zealand since 2007, including the Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen, Taylor Swift’s Red and 1989 tours, Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, Rodriguez and Shawn Mendes.

According to the Wall Street Journal, AEG has acquired a 50% stake in Frontier Touring, part of Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group of companies.

Gudinski, who co-founded Frontier with Chugg in 1979, comments: “Frontier Touring has been fiercely independent since its inception in 1979, and there is no doubt that we’ve batted well above the average on a global level in recent years. AEG Presents has had a successful track record of partnering with independent promoters and allowing them to keep their entrepreneurial roots while also supporting their growth. This next step is about ensuring that Frontier, AEG and our joint-venture partners, Illusive Presents [led by Gudinski’s son, Matt] and Chugg Entertainment, raise the bar in the Australasian live market higher than ever before.”

Of the six Australian companies in the 2018 top 100 promoters list, just two are now independent

Frontier’s joint ventures with Illusive Presents and Chugg Entertainment will continue under the new arrangement (including Chugg’s stake in country music festival CMC Rocks, which will come under under the Frontier-AEG JV), which takes effect on 1 July. The deal does not, however, include the other 24 Mushroom Group companies.

“As demand for live entertainment continues to grow across Australia and New Zealand, we are incredibly excited to be working with a global entity like AEG Presents and the opportunities that it can bring to our business,” continues Gudinski. “AEG is known for its iconic assets, including the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, BST Hyde Park Festival, Stagecoach Country Music Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival [and] such venues as Staples Center and the O2, among others.”

Frontier’s 2018 included tours by Paul McCartney, Celine Dion, Foo Fighters, the Killers, Harry Styles, Sam Smith, Rise Against and Ed Sheeran, the last of which became Australasia’s biggest-ever tour.

Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, says: “Frontier Touring and AEG Presents share a passion and commitment to delivering the best music experiences to artists and fans alike. Michael has built an incredibly respected organisation with a proven track record of success and we are pleased that he chose to partner with us.

“We look forward to working closely with him and his talented team to further grow the Frontier Touring brand.”

AEG’s partial acquisition of Frontier Touring, following Frontier’s merger with Chugg Entertainment, marks the end of an era in Australia, one of the last remaining major touring markets not controlled by multinational corporate entities.

“We are incredibly excited to be working with a global entity like AEG Presents and the opportunities that it can bring to our business”

Of the six Australian companies which placed on Pollstar’s 2018 top 100 promoters list, just two are now independent: 70th-placed Adrian Bohm Presents, which largely promotes comedy tours, and 93rd-placed Bluesfest Touring, the touring arm of Peter Noble’s Byron Bay Bluesfest. (Chugg was placed 47th.)

According to IQ’s 2018 Australasian market report, “the concert landscape of the Great Southern Land is still dominated by the ‘big four’” – Chugg, Gudinski, Michael Coppel and and Paul Dainty – with Live Nation “never far from the mind” of Australia’s indie promoters.

Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, has had a presence in Australia since 2012, when it acquired Michael Coppel Presents (MCP), at that time the second-biggest promoter in Australia. MCP was later rebranded Live Nation Australia with Coppel as chief executive (he became chairman in March 2017, handing over the CEO reins to Roger Field).

Paul Dainty, meanwhile – whose Dainty Group company, along with Frontier, Chugg Entertainment and Live Nation/MCP, formerly dominated international touring in Australia – sold up in 2016, joining TEG, the parent company of leading ticketing platform Ticketek, that July. As IQ noted at the time, that deal created “an integrated live entertainment business (a “one-stop shop”, said TEG) to rival Live Nation Australia”.

Sydney-based TEG has since expanded into Asia, and has been linked with European ticketing/concert giant CTS Eventim, as well as several Chinese buyers.


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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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