Irving Azoff Teams With Madison Square Garden

In his first major move since his exit as executive chairman of Live Nation Entertainment late last year, music power Irving Azoff is taking the reins of a multi-dimensional new-look joint venture with the Madison Square Garden Co., the diversified entertainment and sports firm.

Azoff will serve as chairman-CEO of the newly minted Azoff MSG Entertainment. As part of the setup of the company, an MSG subsidiary will pay his Azoff Music Management $125 million for a 50% interest in Azoff Music Management, the talent firm the veteran manager took with him when he ankled LNE last year. The MSG arm will also provide up to $50 million in credit to AMM.

AMM’s management clients include the Eagles, Van Halen, Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, Christina Aguilera and Steely Dan.

Azoff will also provide consulting services to MSG in connection with management of its live event venues, which include its eponymous New York venue, Radio City Music Hall, the Chicago Theater and the Forum in Inglewood. It was previously announced that the latter venue, which is being retooled for $100 million, will reopen with a run of concerts by the Eagles in January.

In another piece of the new multimedia operation, Azoff MSG will also encompass 50% ownership of Digital Brand Architects, a firm that manages more than 70 well-known bloggers. AMM said that it was investing in DBA in a separate announcement early today but did not place any dollar figure for the deal.

Other elements of Azoff MSG include investments in music publishing, TV production, live event branding and interactive TV.

The company will hold a 90% stake in a publishing company run by former ASCAP execs Randy Grimmett and Sean O’Malley. The TV production and branding unit will be helmed by Lawrence Randall, previously head of programming and entertainment for the NFL.

Another new partnership with Brian Shuster, his digital tech company ACTV8 and UTA will roll out “Streets of the City,” an interactive TV show that will let viewers scout talent and crowd-fund contestants.

MSG executive chairman James Dolan was also previously a board member at LNE; he stepped down from that role after Azoff departed the company, and MSG divested itself of 3.9 million shares of LNE stock.

Dolan said in a statement, “Our previous investment with Irving’s companies provided a positive return for MSG, and we believe this new venture offers us a compelling platform from which to capitalize on the enormous opportunities inherent in today’s dynamic entertainment environment.”

Azoff said that Azoff MSG would seek “artist-friendly and, as a result, fan-friendly projects. One way we’ll accomplish this is by supporting talent’s vision and committing capital, along with management consultation, in a variety of fields, to assist the artists in realizing their creative vision.”

Previously a top-flight talent manager and label exec, Azoff became CEO at Ticketmaster in 2008 after the ticketing giant acquired his Front Line Management. He moved into his role at LNE after the 2010 completion of Ticketmaster’s merger with concert promoter and venue operator Live Nation. After his abrupt departure from LNE, Azoff said he had chafed at the restraints of the company and was seeking new entrepreneurial opportunities.

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