Randy Phillips has signed a new contract to remain the President & CEO of AEG Live, the position he has held with the live entertainment division of Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) since joining the company in 10 years ago. The five-year deal, Phillips’ third with AEG Live, will be announced later today by AEG President/CEO Tim Leiweke, who first tapped Phillips to lead AEG Live. The company is now the second-biggest concert promoter in the world, reporting grosses totaling $800 million in 2011, according to Billboard Boxscore, second only to Live Nation Entertainment.
Under Phillips’ direction, AEG Live has impacted the live business considerably, whether by blowing up the paradigm for live entertainment in Las Vegas with Celine Dion at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace; creating the arena residency with artists ranging from Garth Brooks to Prince to — almost — Michael Jackson; or becoming a viable global touring deal option with creative marketing and promotion for artists like Bon Jovi, Usher, Justin Bieber, American Idols Live!, and, with The Messina Group, Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift. When Jackson’s 50-date run at the O2 didn’t happen, Phillips was a key player in saving the company from a huge financial loss as a producer of “This Is It,” with the “docu-concert” concept continuing with Bieber’s “Never Say Never” and an upcoming project with Katy Perry.
Phillips has also put together a team of veteran executives that span the globe, following his early stated goal that AEG Live would focus on bringing in key personnel as opposed to acquiring companies or venues.
“I decided early on to invest in great people and not pay ridiculous multiples for what ostensibly is a personal service business,” he tells Billboard in an in-depth Q&A that will appear in tomorrow’s issue of the magazine. “To me, cash will always be king, but if cash is equal, it’s about relationships. The one thing about AEG, and it’s been my mantra: we invest in people. It’s almost like a game of chess to put the right personalities together, like a puzzle, the pieces match so they function together, and that’s what AEG Live has become. This is a company that is as devoid of politics as any corporation of its size could be, given human nature.”
Asked what he likes about the gig atop AEG Live, Phillips, a former label exec and artist manager, says he enjoys the job, but admits, “it’s not all altruistic. I like making money. Like anyone else, I like being rewarded when I do good work. But the other side of it is, I love music, and I love working with new talent, watching people break, helping established artists extend their run. I love being part of a team that surrounds artists. There isn’t a day I walk into the office that I don’t enjoy.”
AEG Live now includes 15 regional and international offices, as well as stand-alone divisions devoted to touring, festivals, exhibitions, broadcast, merchandise, ticketing, and special events. Additionally, AEG Live and its parent AEG own, operate or exclusively book 35 venues from the club to stadium level.
“Under Randy Phillips and his entire management team, the last three years at AEG Live have been the best three years in our history; including 2011 – our best year ever,” says Leiweke, who was ranked 9th on Billboard’s first-ever “Power 100” list last month, with Phillips coming in at 15.
“We are proud that the management team’s entrepreneurial spirit, shared goals, incredible experience and knowledge of our industry, along with our employees, has been the backbone of this company these past ten years,” Leiweke says. “It is also ironic that for years, people questioned whether or not we were committed to this business. Now we are the most consistent and respected in the industry. I am happy to have Randy back and look forward to the next 10 years.”