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Veteran Label/Management Exec Gary Gersh Joins AEG Live

Newly created post makes Gersh an 'excitable boy again.'

Former manager and label exec Gary Gersh has joined global concert promoter AEG Live in the newly created position of president of global talent, Billboard has learned. Gersh most recently served as CEO of The Artist Organization (TAO) management firm, which had closed its offices in New York and L.A. by the end of 2014.

The deal for Gersh to join AEG Live was inked around the Christmas holidays, Gersh tells Billboard, and puts the executive squarely in the live music business for the first time in his long career. "I love music," Gersh says, "but I also love business and growth and the opportunity to build, and all those things collide in one place here. I'm super excited about being a part of that. You know how it is, when you're doing something often and for a long time, you think, 'If I can be challenged and be an excitable boy again, that would be a super way to go through the next 10 or 12 years of my life.' I just decided it was time for a change. Fortunately it landed me here, and I couldn't be more excited."

At AEG Live, Gersh will "play a critical role in managing and enhancing the ongoing relationships between artists and their agents, managers and other business associates and AEG Live's touring, festivals and 15 regional offices," according to a statement to be released by AEG Live on Thursday. Gersh will also "work directly with promoters and artists and their teams to create new business relationships and opportunities in the touring and other industry-related spaces," according to the release.

A division of sports and venue giant Anshutz Entertainment Group, AEG Live is the second largest promoter in the world, reporting annual grosses in the $1 billion range, according to Billboard Boxscore. With its Goldenvoice division, AEG produces or co-produces 27 festivals, including New Orleans JazzFest, Coachella, Stagecoach, the Country Superfest brand and recent additions Firefly and Hangout. Tours produced by AEG Live in 2014 include the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Katy Perry, Enrique Iglesias/Pitbull and George Strait

"Gary's rich background as both an accomplished label president and artist manager will bring great resources and unique experience to AEG Live as we continue to build the world's pre-eminent live music company," says AEG Live Chairman Jay Marciano in the statement. "I am confident that the opportunities Gary will develop for both AEG Live and our artists will not only be profitable for both parties, but will create exciting programming for music fans."

Gersh has a storied music business career and was a key figure in jump-starting bands in the Seattle rock scene and like Soundgarden and Nirvana. Starting out as a record store clerk, Gersh helped build what became a chain of 30 Licorice Pizza record stores. After the chain was sold, Gersh went to work at Capitol Records in promotions before helping launch EMI America Records, where he signed and/or worked with such artists as David Bowie, Stray Cats, John Waite, Gary U.S. Bonds, Marty Balin and J. Geils Band. Gersh was a founding partner of Geffen Records and signed/worked with numerous successful acts including Nirvana, The Sundays, Hole, Sonic Youth, Pat Metheny, Stone Roses, Peter Gabriel, Rickie Lee Jones, Robbie Robertson and Counting Crows. Gersh later served as president/CEO at Capitol/Blue Note Records, where he helped establish the careers of Radiohead, the Beastie Boys and Foo Fighters. In 1999, Gersh transitioned from major-label executive to artist manager when he and John Silva founded G.A.S. Entertainment Co. There he worked with Beck, Rage Against the Machine, Counting Crows, Beastie Boys, Foo Fighters, Tenacious D, Jimmy Eat World and At the Drive-In, among others.

Among Gersh's clients at TAO were Soundgarden, Portugal. The Man, John Legend, Lenny Kravitz, Counting Crows, Tears for Fears, Chromeo, Animal Collective, Billy Talent, Death From Above and MSTRKRFT, as well as graphic arts company Poketo and clothing company Imogene & Willie. "I had been in management a long time," Gersh says. "We built [TAO] into a great company and had a great time doing it. It just seemed like the right time for a new challenge."

Now Gersh moves from wrangling deals out of promoters as a manager to "sitting on the same side of the table," as he puts it, though AEG's business transcends concert and tour promotion to including venues, ticketing, branding/sponsorships, film and television, sports, merchandising, and other areas. "There are a lot of businesses that exist under AEG Live, and there are a lot of opportunities for me to use all my artist connections with managers and lawyers and years of doing this," he says, "and also the opportunity to become part of the team to help it grow."

A Los Angeles native, Gersh and his wife live in Santa Monica with their four children.