Chairman/CEO, Azoff MSG Entertainment
He’s back and he’s ready to change the game again, with the new Azoff MSG Entertainment buying up companies and readying a challenge to ASCAP and BMI
Irving Azoff is one of the few on this list whose influence is measured not by the company he’s associated with but by the charisma, savvy and sheer chutzpah of the man himself. Azoff’s well-earned reputation for changing the game precedes him to such a degree that, whatever his current gig, the music industry always wonders what his next move will be.
A year after he resigned as chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, Azoff’s influence remains pervasive, even as the direct impact of Azoff MSG Entertainment (AMSGE) unfolds. As this new era generates headlines, when asked about recent highlights Azoff leads with the Eagles, a band he has managed for 40 years. Neither shows signs of diminishing returns.
Azoff estimates the first 52 shows of the Eagles’ current tour have yielded more than $100 million in grosses, and the group continues blowing out multiple dates in arenas across North America. “Their grosses have been their biggest ever,” he says, “without even trying to be.”
He maintains that the primary reason he left Live Nation was a distaste for working at a public company. “We’re fiercely private at this point,” Azoff says of AMSGE, which is underwritten by the publicly traded Madison Square Garden Co. to the tune of $300 million.
Even with decades of industry-altering moves, Azoff still says, “In my opinion, I had my most powerful year ever [in 2013], between the MSG deal, the opening of the Forum [an MSGC venue in Los Angeles that underwent a $100 million renovation], the opening of [performing rights organization Global Music Rights], the success of the management business, the start of the expansion into comedy,” he says. “I made some investments in a bunch of marketing companies and brought Lawrence Randall over from the NFL [where he was manager of programming] to run that, plus we bought six or seven little companies, too.”
Perhaps the most intriguing component of Azoff’s new venture with MSGC is on the publishing side, with the aforementioned PRO. Azoff believes he has built a better mousetrap and is on a mission to take on the leaders in that space, primarily ASCAP and BMI. “We’ve opened almost like a private club in the performance rights business for a certain kind of act,” he says, adding that several content creators are already onboard, including “music and television writers representing significant market share.”