Rob Hallett has exited his post as President of International Touring for AEG Live with about a year left on his contract, he tells Billboard.biz. Hallett had been with the live entertainment division of global sports, venue and live entertainment giant Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) for 10 years, overseeing the international touring efforts of some of the highest grossing and most successful tours of the past decade.
Hallett’s exit follows the 2013 departure of former AEG CEO Tim Lieweke and, nine months later, AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips. With Lieweke's and Phillips' exit, AEG, “wasn’t the same,” Hallett says. “The business has changed so much in the last 10 years since I founded AEG in the U.K. There are so many more opportunities out there, and I want to take advantage of them. AEG is a great company, but they want to stay promoters and real estate, and I want to grow. I’ve got my own ambitions, and I’m talking to several people.”
Hallett says he’s focused on joining or setting up a multi-rights firm, particularly one with interests in the management realm. “The period where Randy and I co-managed Usher was both enjoyable and successful, so I want to do more of that,” he says. “I intend to stay at the sharp end, and I’ve got several interesting conversations going on at the moment. AEG is great, I just wanted to move on and have a wider business.”
AEG Live is coming off the most successful year in the division’s history, with grosses topping $1 billion for the first time in 2013, second only to Live Nation. London-base Hallett’s direction of international touring played a significant role in AEG Live’s success; during his tenure, Hallett has overseen concert promotion and/or production for the international legs of tours by such artists as Leonard Cohen, Justin Bieber, Usher, Backstreet Boys, the Rolling Stones, Prince, Rod Stewart, the Who, and Bon Jovi, with the latter being last year’s highest-grossing tour for the third time in six years. Also on Hallett’s watch has been the rise of the O2 Arena in London, which for the fifth consecutive year was the highest-grossing concert venue in the world.
“It has been a fantastic 10-year run,” Hallett says, who add that before he came on, “AEG didn’t exist in Europe. I’ve fought pretty much single-handedly against the competition, and kept us in the game. I’m very proud of my achievements at AEG, I wish them well, and I hope they continue the concepts I started.”
Global entertainment attorney Joel Katz is representing Hallett in weighing new opportunities, with the focus on “a type of 360 business and a boutique touring company, with management, publishing, records, branding, merch, the whole big picture,” Hallett says. “It wouldn’t be just me, because I’m not an expert in every area, but that’s the type of company I want to put together.”
Reports that Hallett has joined British media giant Global Limited, whose founder/CEO Ashely Tabor is believed to be setting up a multirights division with a focus on management and touring under Phillips, are at best premature, and seem unlikely based on Hallett’s comments. “I don’t really want to jump into a big organization that’s already there,” he says. “I’d like to build something myself this time. I think I’m at that point in my life and career where I can. If I don’t do it now, I’ll live to regret it.”
Representatives from AEG could not immediately be reached for comment.