IRVING AZOFF, 70
Chairman/CEO, Azoff MSG Entertainment; chairman, Full Stop Management
Last Year’s Rank: 6
THE BIG DEALS: In a move that will ensure the Azoff name remains synonymous with artist management for years to come, the veteran power broker merged his firm with son Jeffrey’s Full Stop Management and Brandon Creed’s The Creed Company. The result, which will assume the Full Stop moniker, boasts a roster that includes signature act the Eagles along with Harry Styles, HAIM, Sara Bareilles, Mark Ronson, Meghan Trainor, Gwen Stefani and Bon Jovi. “Young blood is important in our business, and I wanted to work with taller people,” says Azoff in typical ham-on-wry fashion. Meanwhile, The Arena Alliance, created through the elder Azoff and Tim Leiweke’s Oak View Group, grew to 28 venues, growing the ad-hoc collective’s clout and income streams.
THE BIG BRAWLS: The bitter rivalry between Azoff MSG’s top arenas — Madison Square Garden in New York and The Forum in the Los Angeles metro area — and AEG, which books L.A.’s Staples Center and London’s O2 Arena, continued, although Azoff hints that he’s tiring of the battle: “I only count our dollars now,” he says. “I’m not counting theirs anymore.”
He’s more focused on his invitation-only performing rights organization Global Music Rights’ case against a radio lobbying group fighting a licensing fee increase for such artists as Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars and Pharrell Williams. In November, a magistrate judge recommended that the case be heard in L.A., a more favorable environment than Philadelphia, where the Radio Music Licensing Committee filed suit against GMR, calling its 74 songwriters — the total has since grown to 85 — under contract a “monopoly.” (By comparison, the RMLC represents practically every commercial U.S. station that programs music, approximately 10,000.)
THE EAGLES’ LONG RUN CONTINUES: “I’ve never seen grosses like this,” says Azoff of the Eagles’ planned arena and stadium tour, which begins in March. In the wake of founding member Glenn Frey’s death in January 2016, the band will return to the road with his son Deacon Frey and country-music vet Vince Gill, who were part of the lineup that marked the Eagles’ comeback appearances at the Classic East and West concerts last August. Azoff calls those shows “part of the relaunch of the Eagles that obviously worked,” and, he suggests, spurred sales going forward. According to Azoff, the group’s June 23 show at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, has already grossed $10.6 million in ticket sales, and its June 28 concert at Denver’s Coors Field $8.2 million.