Irving Azoff Responds to the Venue Wars Between AEG and MSG
The following statement from Irving Azoff, regarding the increasingly sharp battle over exclusives being waged between Azoff MSG and AEG Live, was sent to Billboard’s Dave Brooks prior to AEG’s Jay Marciano providing his own comment on the matter. For the main story outlining that battle, click here.
So I get a call from [Larry] Solters [Azoff’s longtime media consultant]. Billboard's inquiring about "rumors" flying around from anonymous "sources" and "high placed agents." Dave Brooks wants to know if I will respond. Solters urges me not to go on the record, since nobody else will, but I hate "fake news" as much as the next guy.
Let’s be clear: I am very fond of Jay Marciano, Lee Zeidman, Marc Geiger as well as the obvious other "unnamed sources" leaking this fable. C’mon guys, go on the record and don’t hide behind anonymity, trying to spin an ass-backwards story.
Here’s what really goes on when Live Nation gets a big tour: The good folks at AEG bombard agents, managers and anyone else with blatant attempts to cost my team a bunch of $$$ at The Forum. They 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. They know, of course, that it is unlikely they will deliver the Staples date, but they work for a hard-nosed businessman.
Let's be clear: Staples' economics are different. Every single seat at The Forum is on the manifest. I'm told from my "sources" that on a big night at Staples, even without the suite revenue, by selling the extra stools in the suites, night clubs, premium and all the other non-manifest spots to the brokers and the secondary market they could easily generate more than $500,000. So they have a lot to offer up. If an act on a Live Nation tour should opt to play Staples with all those incentives, so be it. That's competition. Not really above board, but good, tough business.
With regard to Madison Square Garden, 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.
While I realize Phil [Anschutz, owner of AEG] may not be happy with Los Angeles being a competitive market, that's the American way.
— Irving Azoff
P.S. We are extremely flattered by Staples' feeble attempt to replicate The Forum’s game room at AEG's Microsoft Theater... Thanks for loving what we do.
This article originally appeared on Billboard.com.