Randy Phillips, ousted yesterday as president/CEO of AEG Live, the concert promotion arm of Anschutz Entertainment Group, was predictably upbeat when he talked to Billboard today.
“I ended a 13-year run [at AEG Live] having the biggest year the company ever had, working with great people I hired trained and mentored,” he says. “I’ve got a great contract, they’re honoring it, I was terminated without cause, so life’s good.”
Asked about the timing of his exit, Phillips supposes it has to do with the year coming to a close. “They want to start the new year with the re-org, and it gives them time amongst the holidays,” he says. “Part of it is I was a larger than life presence there, and the face of the company. What’s the best time to get rid of a king? Right before the holidays. By the time Monday starts, it’s all new.”
Asked what’s next, Phillips says he’s looking for an entrepreneurial opportunity. “Right now the lawyers are negotiating with the company to get me as much freedom as possible in the next chapter of my life,” he says, adding that he has “a huge amount” of opportunities. “The outpouring and the emails have been insane because of the work I did. The [Michael Jackson wrongful death] trial is behind me, and I’m trying to figure out what the next chapter is, and how to build a better mousetrap in this ever-changing media world we live in.”
Phillips, a former manager, adds that he doesn’t want to “do something too traditional” in his next gig. “Whatever it is will probably involve management, touring, marketing,” he says. “I know a lot of people say that, but having had the experience of running a big company the last 13 years, I really know what works and what doesn’t. If there’s anything I learned from this whole experience it’s having a good eye and the ability to hire great people and mentor them. That’s what I’m leaving behind, and that’s the saddest thing, and it is for them to. But life goes on, and at the end of the day it’s just a job, it’s not who I am.”
As to his legacy at AEG Live, Phillips says, “I’ve given a gift to the music industry, and that’s an alternative to there just being one buyer,” he says, referring to AEG Live’s chief competitor in the global touring game, the world’s top promoter in Live Nation. “I’ve given the industry a real viable alternative, and if that’s my legacy of this job, it’s the greatest legacy I could have.”