fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

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”.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

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.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

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.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

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.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

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.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ‘s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

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.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

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.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

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.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Irving Azoff, AEG in LA ‘booking war’

Irving Azoff has responded to reports of a bad-tempered Los Angeles ‘booking war’ between AEG and MSG Azoff Entertainment, saying the alleged offering of incentives to artists to play the rival companies’ respective venues is “good, tough business”.

Former Ticketmaster/Live Nation chairman Azoff (picture) issued the statement after Billboard reported that LA booking agents are being told by MSG Azoff – a joint venture between Azoff and the Madison Square Garden Company – their acts cannot play Madison Square Garden (in New York) unless they also play MSG’s the Forum in Inglewood, Los Angeles.

AEG is also alleged to be pushing artists to play its Staples Center venue or risk losing the chance to play at other AEG arenas, including The O2 in London and Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg.

After chiding AEG COO Jay Marciano, Staples Center president Lee Zeidman and WME’s Marc Geiger – whose client Neil Diamond had pulled out of playing the Staples Center after reportedly being told he could not also play Madison Square Garden, earning the ire of Marciano, who accused Geiger of “caving” to Azoff – for “hid[ing] behind anonymity”, Azoff suggests offering such deals to those who want to perform at the over-subscribed Garden simply makes business sense.

“While I realise that Phil may not be happy with Los Angeles being a competitive market, that’s the American way”

“They [AEG] offer huge rebates at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, London’s The O2 Arena, Germany’s Barclaycard Arena and a residency on the moon to secure an act to play Staples Center,” he tells Billboard. “They know, of course, that it is unlikely they will deliver the Staples date, but they work for a hard-nosed businessman [Phil Anschutz].

With regards to Madison Square Garden, he continues, “we have far fewer nights available than requests by artists to play there. And of course, the premium MSG nights are going to loyal friends of the company.

“Playing the Forum – the obviously better music venue in Los Angeles – makes you a friend of the company. I only wish we could accommodate everyone with dates in Manhattan, but it’s simple supply and demand. Besides, unlike London and Germany, there are now four arenas in the New York area, so if an act can’t play the Garden, they can go elsewhere.

Azoff is also co-founder, with ex-AEG CEO Tim Leiweke, of Oak View Group – which is bidding against AEG on Seattle’s KeyArena. He concludes: “While I realise that Phil may not be happy with Los Angeles being a competitive market, that’s the American way.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Uber strikes transport partnership deal with AEG

Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, has become the official rideshare and transportation partner for 27 AEG venues, festivals and other assets.

The multi-year agreement, announced today, includes, among others, London’s The O2 and SSE Arena Wembley; Staples Center and LA Live in Los Angeles; StubHub Center in Carson, California;  Mo Pop Festival in Detroit; Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle; Brooklyn Steel in New York; the Verizon Theater in Dallas; Frisco, Texas, country music festival Off the Rails; ticket agency AXS; ice-hockey team LA Kings and football team LA Galaxy.

The deal will give Uber customers easier access to AEG events with designated ‘Uber zones’, as well in-venue perks, “surprise elements” for Uber passengers and promotions via the Uber, AXS, LA Kings and LA Galaxy apps.

Uber branding will also be integrated into in-venue signage and AEG’s marketing and promotion, including several AEG Presents festival apps.

“The AEG portfolio of globally recognised assets is unmatched,” comments Nick Baker, senior vice-president of AEG Global Partnerships. “Having a chance to build this multi-entity partnership across major world markets can only be shared by equally powerful organisations that share a vision to enhance experiences through technology and live events.

“With the help of Uber’s global platform and innovative technology, our fans will experience a new level of convenience, safety and ease”

“With the help of Uber’s global platform and innovative technology, our fans will experience a new level of convenience, safety and ease as we continue to raise the bar and deliver top-notch experiences around the world.”

Amy Friedlander Hoffman, head of experiential marketing at Uber, adds: “Uber already plays a big part in a fan’s game day, concert or event experience by getting you there safely and on time. This partnership with select AEG venues takes that experience to a whole different level. Now, fans will have access to new perks, designated pick-up and drop-off spots and exclusive promotions, creating the best event experiences for all fans.”

Transportation network company (TNC) Uber, which connects passengers with privately hired cars – usually owned by the drivers – was last year hailed by Vector Arena’s Judith Clumpas as a “service game-changer” that has “left the concert experience standing”.

While the company is financially successful, with revenues topping US$10.8 billion in 2015, it has been criticised for its allegedly poor company culture, shortcomings in driver background checks and ‘predatory’ pricing that undercuts traditional taxi drivers.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.