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AEG goes public about venue booking spat with MSG and Live Nation

By | Published on Monday 3 July 2017


Live giant AEG has commented on a dispute with US venue owner MSG Entertainment which has now crossed the Atlantic to include London’s The O2 arena.

MSG has reportedly been pressuring artists who want to play its most famous venue, from which the parent company takes its name – ie New York’s Madison Square Garden – to also play its LA base The Forum, instead of AEG’s Staples Centre. AEG is fighting back by saying that it will prioritise those acts who choose the Staples Centre over The Forum when programming The O2. Good times.

Says AEG about the dispute: “AEG always places artists and fans first and believes that artists should be free to play whatever venue they choose. However, MSG Entertainment’s aggressive practice of requiring artists to perform at the LA Forum in order to secure dates at Madison Square Garden is eliminating that choice, which serves neither the interests of artists nor fans”.

It adds: “After exhausting all avenues, our hand has been forced by MSG’s actions and AEG will now co-ordinate bookings between The O2 arena and Staples Center to level the playing field for all. We believe that AEG’s offering of venues will provide artists the greatest financial potential and fans the best experience. While this coordinated booking strategy seeks to defend our business interests, our ultimate objective remains protecting and restoring choice for artists”.

That other major player in venue management and concert promotion, Live Nation, has also joined the dispute, accusing AEG of anti-competitive behaviour, and seemingly siding with MSG, which is these days in business with former Live Nation top man Irving Azoff.

Responding to Live Nation’s intervention, AEG goes on: “Our policy is not intended in any way to deny Live Nation, or any other promoter, access to The O2 arena. To the contrary, we desire to bring as much content as possible to all of our venues and we will continue to actively seek concert bookings at The O2 from all promoters including Live Nation”.

“Live Nation’s threat of antitrust action in response to our booking policy is the height of hypocrisy coming from a company that publicly boasts about its control of content and distribution as the world’s largest concert promoter and ticketing company and one of the world’s leading artist management companies”.

AEG continues: “As evidenced by a parade of antitrust lawsuits, regulatory investigations and an antitrust consent decree that have followed the company over the years, Live Nation has a well-earned and widespread reputation for resorting to aggressive tactics, including threatening to withhold its content, as it continually seeks to enhance its dominant market position in these various sectors. Given its asserted market dominance, we find it astounding that Live Nation would have the audacity to complain merely because it finds itself agitated by a competitor’s business response to heavy-handed tactics in which Live Nation has participated”.

Want more? OK, we got more. “Not only did Live Nation not complain about MSG’s tying of the Garden and the Forum, but it actively encouraged and supported that policy because it suited Live Nation’s interests in driving content away from a competitively ticketed building to a Ticketmaster building, which, in the process, succeeded in sending a very loud message to the live entertainment industry – how well equipped Live Nation is to punish any buildings that dare go with a competing ticketing provider”.

Ah yes, AEG has never quite got over the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger back in 2010, which put the world’s biggest concert promoter and top ticketing firm into common ownership. “Notwithstanding Live Nation’s recent threats to pursue legal action and deprive AEG venues of shows, we fully intend to proceed with our new booking policy. We are highly confident of the legality of our booking policy and will vigorously defend any misguided attempts by Live Nation to use the courts or the regulatory system to combat a practice they have aggressively pursued and benefitted from elsewhere”.

So, that’s all fun isn’t it?