Live Nation Strengthens European Personnel and Assets
tions took place, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have lost key London venues Wembley Arena and Hyde Park to rivals AEG Live, and its ticketing arm, AXS, so it will be interesting to see if there will be any objections to the likes of The Borderline, The Garage and The Jazz Cafe (with accent) Café once again becoming Live Nation-owned venues. The MAMA assets also included The Great Escape conference and showcase event, as well as festivals such as Lovebox and Citadel and a stake in Wilderness Festival. Elsewhere, Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn has been brought on board by Live Nation to help improve the profitability of its festivals business. His position has been further cemented by the departure of chief operating officer John Probyn, who has left to take on a similar role for The Sports Show (see page 8). Paul Latham has been elevated to COO for Live Nation UK and Ireland, and will report to Denis Desmond.
Lollapalooza kicked off its first European festival with a sell-out when 60,000 fans witnessed its debut at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport in the German capital. More than 50 acts performed over the 12-13 September weekend, including Muse, Metallica, Stereophonics and Florence and the
Machine. According to the event’s organisers 30% of the audience came from outside Germany, and despite enduring a few teething problems the event was considered a huge success by both fans and critics alike. Event co-founder Marc Geiger says, “The first year is always the tough one.
As producers, you want to clean up problems on the spot, but we have to have the long view. We’re going to make this the best festival in Europe.” Tickets for 2016’s Lollapalooza Berlin are already on sale and those who attended this year’s weekender are being offered €20 discount.
Irish promoter Denis Desmond has been handed the reins as the new boss of Live Nation UK and Ireland as part of a major senior management reshuffle. Although it is yet to be officially announced, it is understood he has taken the title of chairman of promotions UK/Ireland. The world’s biggest promoter has had a busy couple of months and there have been some major executive hires, as well as departures. In Germany, MLK’s Marek and Andre Lieberberg are working through their notice before heading up the Live Nation Concerts Germany office beginning in January 2016. In the meantime, former MLK staffer Matthias Schwarz has assumed the managing direc-
tor role of LN Germany Austria Switzerland operations and a number of staff members have already been recruited. That move was heralded as a major coup for both LN and its Ticketmaster subsidiary, with claims that the Lieberbergs’ festivals and concerts would add about two million tickets to the company’s business. In reality, as many of MLK’s shows take place in Eventim-controlled venues, the figure will likely be lower. MLK, meanwhile, will remain an asset of CTS Eventim. In the UK, Desmond’s appointment has still to be made public but the company has been busy increasing its portfolio again, this time with LN-Gaiety Holdings Ltd joint venture with Desmond purchasing MAMA & Company, the operator of nine venues and promoter of a number of festivals. Ironically, MAMA’s portfolio includes a number of venues that LN had to divest following its merger with Ticketmaster in 2010. Since those transac-
IQ Magazine September 2015
UTA buys TAG In a move that apparently took even some senior agents by surprise, Neil Warnock has sold The Agency Group (TAG) to United Talent Agency (UTA) for an undisclosed sum. The deal comes on the back of TAG’s own aggressive growth strategy over the past few years and effectively means the company becomes UTA’s music division. Warnock becomes UTA’s head of global music, while TAG’s chief executive, Gavin O’Reilly leaves the company. The multimilliondollar transaction effectively means an end to TAG’s description as the world’s largest independent agency, while UTA chief Jeremy Zimmer heralds the agreement as “a quantum leap forward,” as it makes UTA one of the major players in the entertainment world. Although primarily an agency for Hollywood, UTA did represent a number of artists such as Kanye West and Mariah Carey. The addition of TAG’s roster adds more than 2,000 acts, as well as more than 90 agents across seven offices in the UK, Sweden and North America. While staff at TAG were largely kept in the dark about the sale until the company’s receptionists began answering the phones as ‘United Talent Agency’, it’s business as usual among the agents, albeit they are now part of an ambitious American corporation. UTA’s purchase of TAG was made possible, in part, through an investment by hedge fund guru Jeffrey Ubben who becomes a nonvoting member of the UTA board. Ubben’s involvement “is really about bringing a smart, seasoned investor into the company,” says Zimmer.