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Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest line-up revealed

Halsey, Miley Cyrus and Green Day are among the headliners revealed for the Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest.

The three-night festival will run from 10-12 February 2022 at the 20,000-cap Staples Center (soon to be the Crypto.com Arena) in Los Angeles, kicking off with performances from both Halsey and Machine Gun Kelly on night one.

Night two will feature Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani with Mickey Guyton, while the final night Super Bowl Eve concert line-up is topped by Green Day and Miley Cyrus.

Now in its third year, the event serves as a precursor to the Super Bowl and its coveted Halftime Show, which in 2022 will star Dr Dre, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J Blige and Snoop Dogg at the 100,000-cap SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on Sunday, 13 February.

The Bruno Mars and Cardi B concert in 2019 was the highest-grossing event in State Farm Arena’s 20-year history

“Staples Center and LA Live are incredibly excited and honoured to host three amazing nights of music as part of Super Bowl Music Fest,” says Lee Zeidman, president of Staples Center, Microsoft Theater and LA Live. “We look forward to welcoming music and football fans to downtown as part of Super Bowl week in Los Angeles.”

The Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest has previously featured unique and never-before-paired line-ups with artists including Bruno Mars and Cardi B, Post Malone and Aerosmith, Maroon 5 and Dan + Shay with a surprise performance from Demi Lovato, and a night with Guns N’ Roses and special guest Snoop Dogg.

The 2019 and 2020 festivals were held at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia and the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, respectively. The Bruno Mars and Cardi B concert in 2019 was reportedly the highest-grossing event in State Farm Arena’s 20-year history, generating $6.473 million.


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LA’s Staples Center to be renamed Crypto.com Arena

AEG’s Staples Center in Los Angeles is to be renamed the Crypto.com Arena as part of a new 20-year naming rights deal.

The deal with the Singapore-based cryptocurrency platform, reportedly worth US$700 million (€618m), according to the FT, was brokered by AEG Global Partnerships and comes into effect from 25 December, with all of the 20,000-cap venue’s external signage to be replaced by June 2022.

“This partnership represents the fastest-growing cryptocurrency platform and the biggest sports and live entertainment company in the world converging to drive the future of sports and live entertainment as well as the incredible legacy of this arena for decades to come,” says Todd Goldstein, chief revenue officer of AEG.

“It marks an exciting new chapter in the history of our company and our respective industries, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have such a visionary partner like Crypto.com supporting our global fan base and local community.”

As exclusive naming rights partner, Crypto.com plans to engage fans through premium branded areas of the arena including a 3,300 sq. ft activation space at the building’s entrance, as well as dedicated activation areas on the main concourse and throughout the adjacent LA Live campus.

The new relationship, which will result in the first name change in the venue’s 22-year history, will also see Crypto.com featured prominently across the venue with large-scale, premium branding and signage throughout the interior and exterior.

This partnership is about the future

“This partnership is about the future,” adds Dan Beckerman, AEG president and CEO. “AEG and Crypto.com not only share a vision about innovation and the future of sports and entertainment, but we also have a shared commitment to our communities where we work and live. We look forward to partnering with Crypto.com to create meaningful initiatives to bring that vision to life in the years to come.”

Crypto.com has committed to becoming carbon negative by the end of 2022 by offsetting more carbon than is generated by all activities across the organisation. Earlier this year, the company became the first crypto platform to partner with an F1 team (Aston Martin), the first to partner with an NHL team (Montreal Canadiens), and the first to partner with a professional sports league (Lega Serie A).

Opening its doors in 1999, the downtown Los Angeles arena is home to the NBA’s LA Lakers and LA Clippers and the NHL’s LA Kings and LA Sparks and hosts over 240 major high-profile events a year, including 19 of the last 21 Grammy Awards shows. Upcoming concerts include Enrique Iglesias & Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny, Justin Bieber, Imagine Dragons and the Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest series.


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LA’s Staples Center reopens after 513 days

Mexican band Grupo Firme have wrapped up a ten-night arena run in the US, seven of them at Staples Center in Los Angeles, selling more than 100,000 tickets and taking the record for the most shows in a single year at the venue by a Latin act.

The banda performers kicked off their west-coast tour at the 20,000-capacity Staples Center on 30 July – exactly 513 since the last show there, on 4 March 2020 – and returned on 31 July and 1, 4, 6, 7 and 8 August.

They then played a sold-out show at Footprint Center (18,000-cap.) in Phoenix, Arizona, on 13 August; reopened Pechanga Arena (16,100-cap.) in San Diego, California, on 14 August; and concluded with another sold-out show at Mechanics Bank Arena (10,400-cap.) in Bakersfield, California, on 15 August.

The shows, Grupo Firme’s first arena concerts, were promoted by Nederlander Concerts. With the O2 in London having reopened on 10 August, both of AEG’s flagship arenas are now back up to full capacity.

Founded in Tijuana in 2013 by Eduin Cazares and Joaquín Ruiz, Grupo Firme have risen to become one of Mexico’s most popular musical exports with their viral mix of “dance-happy norteñas, ranchera and banda music”.


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North American arenas compensate part-time employees

Amid widespread cancellations of live entertainment and sporting events, several arenas in North America are taking steps to ensure the livelihoods of their part-time staff.

Large venues including Staples Center (20,000-cap.) in Los Angeles, Smoothie King Center (17,791-seat) in New Orleans and Scotiabank Saddledome (19,289-seat) in Calgary have created employee funds for non-salaried workers who have been affected by coronavirus-induced closures.

In LA, the AEG-operated Staples Center – along with its sports-team tenants, the LA Lakers, LA Clippers and LA Kings – have established a compensation scheme for wages lost by part-time employees.

Payments from the fund, according to NHL.com, will be distributed among more than 2,800 hourly event employees, including box-office staff, ushers, security, stagehands, operations staff, car park attendants and F&B sellers.

Meanwhile, Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, has announced plans to establish an ‘Arena Assistance Fund’ for those left out of pocket by the cancellation of upcoming NBA basketball games.

“We want to do our part to assist those that have been impacted in our community”

Benson, whose teams play at ASM Global’s Smoothie King Center, has also made a personal donation of US$1 million to create the Gayle Benson Community Fund to remunerate Pelicans employees, as well as local ‘gig economy’ workers in New Orleans.

“We have been meeting and planning a response since the NBA’s announcement to suspend games. Our meaningful discussions have led to what we believe is the most impactful way to best serve the needs of our community as a whole,” she says. “We want to do our part to assist those that have been impacted in our community.”

North of the Canadian border, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), which owns the Calgary Flames ice-hockey team and operates the Saddledome, has similarly announced it will pay part-time and hourly employees while the Flames’ season is on hold.

San Francisco’s Chase Center has also established a $1m ‘disaster relief fund’, to be funded by the owners, players and coaches of NBA squad Golden State Warriors, to pay employees while the 19,500-capacity venue is empty.

Yesterday, US president Donald Trump recommended Americans refrain from gathering in groups of more than ten until the end of the month, as well as the closure of bars, restaurants, clubs and schools.


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AEG Global Partnerships appoints SVP, global portfolio

The global partnerships division of AEG has appointed Nickole Raymond Tara to the newly created position of senior vice president, global portfolio.

In the new role, Raymond Tara will drive sales revenues for AEG in New York, where she will be based, and internationally. She will also curate multi-property partnerships with brands and companies looking to capitalise on AEG’s global portfolio, which includes venues such as the LA Staples Center and the O2 Arena in London; music festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach; and sports franchises including LA Kings and LA Galaxy.

“It’s a privilege to work with the one-of-a-kind portfolio of assets that only AEG affords its partners,” comments Raymond Tara. “Throughout my career, I’ve long admired the accomplishments of my new colleagues at AEG and cannot wait to work alongside such an incredible and award-winning team.”

“Nickole’s impressive track record makes her an ideal executive to deliver partnerships on the tremendous portfolio of assets we have at AEG”

“Nickole’s impressive track record makes her an ideal executive to deliver partnerships on the tremendous portfolio of assets we have at AEG,” says Andrew Klein, managing director of AEG Global Partnerships.

Raymond Tara joins AEG from sports entertainment company Topgolf, where she helped form deals with Dell Technologies, AT&T, Audi, Coca-Cola and more. Prior to Topgolf, Raymond Tara worked for talent agency WME.

The new senior vice president of global portfolio will report to AEG Global Partnerships chief operating officer Nick Baker and managing director Klein.


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New LA Stadium hires four, including AEG’s Castillo Butcher

LA Stadium & Entertainment District at Hollywood Park (LASED), a new venue and entertainment complex in Los Angeles, has made four new high-profile hires as it gears up for opening in 2020.

The 298-acre Hollywood Park will comprise a 70,240-seat stadium and 6,000-seat performance venue, along with 1.5m square feet of office and retail space, a hotel and more than 20 acres of parkland.

It is currently being built in Inglewood, California – also home to Madison Square Garden Company’s the Forum, as well as an in-the-works new basketball arena – by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) owner Stan Kroenke.

New to LASED are Christy Castillo Butcher, Kameron Durham, Skarpi Hedinsson and Joe Sesin, who join as senior vice-president of programming, VP of guest experience, CTO and VP of finance and accounting, respectively.

Castillo Butcher most recently served as senior VP of booking and events for AEG’s Staples Center (21,000-cap.) and Microsoft Theatre in central LA. She spent 19 years at Staples Center and played a key role in booking some of the venue’s most successful events, including the 2000 Democratic National Convention, multiple Grammy Awards ceremonies and X Games competitions, and more than 250 sold-out concerts.

“We are assembling a dedicated organisation of talented individuals”

All four will report to LASED managing director Jason Gannon.

“As part of Mr Kroenke’s vision for this global sports and entertainment destination, we are assembling a dedicated organisation of talented individuals,” says Gannon. “To that end, we are thrilled to welcome Christy, Kameron, Skarpi and Joe to our team.

“Each brings a unique expertise that will help us deliver an unparallelled experience for all who visit Hollywood Park.”

Hollywood Park is projected to open in 2020, with American football clubs Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers expected to move in around August. When the two teams move to LA Stadium, where they will play their home games, it will mark the return of major professional sports to Inglewood for the first time since the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings (a basketball and ice-hockey team, respectively) left The Forum for Staples Center in 1999.


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Booking war nears end as AEG abandons block booking

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


The long-running ‘booking war’ between AEG and Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) looks to be approaching its conclusion, after Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, confirmed the company is no longer block booking its LA Staples Center and London O2 venues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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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O2 takes centre stage as AEG–MSG turf war heats up

The Los Angeles ‘booking war’ between rival US venue operators AEG and Azoff MSG Entertainment has crossed the Atlantic, with acts who opt to play MSG’s the Forum rather than AEG’s Staples Center to be turned away from The O2 in London.

In a no-holds-barred statement issued this morning, an AEG representative says MSG’s “aggressive practice of requiring artists to perform at the LA Forum in order to secure dates at Madison Square Garden” means it will now have to implement a similar policy at The O2, with slots at the venue reserved for those acts who played Staples Center (21,000-cap.) when passing through LA.

“AEG always places artists and fans first and believes that artists should be free to play whatever venue they choose,” reads the AEG statement, shared with IQ. “However, MSG Entertainment’s aggressive practice of requiring artists to perform at the LA Forum in order to secure dates at Madison Square Garden is eliminating that choice, which serves neither the interests of artists nor fans.

“After exhausting all avenues, our hand has been forced by MSG’s actions, and AEG will now coordinate bookings between The O2 Arena and Staples Center to level the playing field for all. We believe that AEG’s offering of venues will provide artists the greatest financial potential and fans the best experience. While this coordinated booking strategy seeks to defend our business interests, our ultimate objective remains protecting and restoring choice for artists.”

“We are highly confident of the legality of our booking policy”

AEG also reveals it has been threatened with legal action by its chief rival, Live Nation, which it insists it is not trying to shut out of The O2. “Our policy is not intended in any way to deny Live Nation, or any other promoter, access to The O2 arena,” it continues. “To the contrary, we desire to bring as much content as possible to all of our venues and we will continue to actively seek concert bookings at The O2 from all promoters, including Live Nation.”

The 21,000-capacity O2, which recently celebrated its tenth birthday, has since 2008 been the world’s busiest venue. It is also by far the largest in London, dwarfing its nearest rival, The SSE Arena, Wembley (12,500-cap.), which is also operated by AEG.

Despite assuring Live Nation it will still be welcome to put on shows at The O2, AEG says it will “vigorously defend” any legal bid to thwart its new booking policy – and accuses the rival promoter of “hypocrisy”, given its ownership of Ticketmaster and overall “dominant market position”.

“Live Nation’s threat of antitrust action in response to our booking policy is the height of hypocrisy coming from a company that publicly boasts about its control of content and distribution as the world’s largest concert promoter and ticketing company and one of the world’s leading artist-management companies,” it continues. “As evidenced by a parade of antitrust lawsuits, regulatory investigations and an antitrust consent decree that have followed the company over the years, Live Nation has a well-earned and widespread reputation for resorting to aggressive tactics, including threatening to withhold its content, as it continually seeks to enhance its dominant market position in these various sectors.

“Given its asserted market dominance, we find it astounding that Live Nation would have the audacity to complain merely because it finds itself agitated by a competitor’s business response to heavy-handed tactics in which Live Nation has participated.

Irving Azoff has defended coordinated booking between the Forum and MSG as “good, tough business”

“Not only did Live Nation not complain about MSG’s tying of the Garden and the Forum, but it actively encouraged and supported that policy because it suited Live Nation’s interests in driving content away from a competitively ticketed building to a Ticketmaster building, which, in the process, succeeded in sending a very loud message to the live entertainment industry: how well equipped Live Nation is to punish any buildings that dare go with a competing ticketing provider.

“Notwithstanding Live Nation’s recent threats to pursue legal action and deprive AEG venues of shows, we fully intend to proceed with our new booking policy. We are highly confident of the legality of our booking policy and will vigorously defend any misguided attempts by Live Nation to use the courts or the regulatory system to combat a practice they have aggressively pursued and benefitted from elsewhere.”

Azoff MSG chief Irving Azoff – himself a former chairman of Live Nation – has previously defended the coordinated booking between the Forum and Madison Square Garden as “good, tough business”.

Live Nation declined to comment.


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