Ticketmaster’s blockbuster agreement to acquire a controlling equity interest in Irving Azoff’s Front Line Management Group could have a big impact on Live Nation’s summer amphitheater touring season, according to AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips, who spoke yesterday (Nov. 20) on a touring panel at the annual Billboard Touring Conference in New York.
“I know a lot of amphitheater tours where [Azoff has] come to me to try and figure out the economics to keep out of your amphitheaters, because he does not want [Live Nation] to be handling the tickets,” Phillips said. “You’re being naive if you think this isn’t going to be a battle.”
Less than two months remain before Live Nation launches its in-house ticketing platform. Live Nation, whose ticketing deal with Ticketmaster expires at the end of this year, has partnered with German ticketing company CTS Eventim to help launch its ticketing operation.
With Azoff now serving as CEO of newly dubbed Ticketmaster Entertainment, competition between the two companies will be even more intense.
But even in his new role, Azoff will continue to “do what’s right” for the clients he manages, Phillips said during the panel, but “what’s right for his act may be merging with what’s right for the business he’s creating.”
Front Line Management represents such acts as the Eagles, Jimmy Buffett, Neil Diamond, Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac, Christina Aguilera, Stevie Nicks, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Chicago, Journey and Guns N’ Roses.
Azoff’s client roster, which has roughly 200 acts, accounts for “about 30% or 40% of [Live Nation’s] amphitheater season,” according to Phillips.
But Live Nation Northeast chairman Jimmy Koplik noted that Azoff has already been in contact with him about routing Front Line clients into sheds for the 2009 summer season.
“I’m sure Irving’s putting his artists into the amphitheaters of Live Nation,” Koplik said. “We’re talking to a couple of tours right now.”
Koplik added, “If you see Jimmy Buffett next summer playing arenas, then you’ll be right. I don’t think that will happen.” Phillips quickly responded with: “Hold on.”