Ticketmaster Acquires Azoff's Front Line Management

NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Ticketmaster has announced that they have reached a deal with Irving Azoff to acquire a controlling equity interest in Azoff's Front Line Management. The deal would leave company founder Irving Azoff in charge at Frontline and will also vault him to the lofty position of Chief Executive Officer of Ticketmaster.

The marriage of the two firms will result in an entity to be called Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc and the deal breaks down like this – Ticketmaster will acquire the minority equity stake in Front Line currently owned by Warner Music Group for approximately $123.0 million in cash. In addition Ticketmaster will issue restricted stock awards to Mr. Azoff representing approximately 4.5% of Ticketmaster's stock, and a portion of the equity stake in Front Line currently held by Mr. Azoff will be cancelled.

Front Line is a major player and reps a solid roster of major artists, including the Eagles, Jimmy Buffett, Neil Diamond, Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac, Christina Aguilera, Stevie Nicks, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Chicago, Journey, and Guns N' Roses.

Irving Azoff is many things to many people, but he is always the man in the background pulling all the right strings for the most powerful performers in the world. Now it looks like Azoff will be thrust to the forefront of our industry as well as the world media in a deal that may put Ticketmaster back in the drivers seat, or at least make it a formative competitor again.

In recent months, Ticketmaster, which had already been facing growing challenges from the secondary ticket market, appeared to be on the defensive against their newly-emerged rival Live Nation. Live Nation, formerly Ticketmaster's largest client and generating almost a fifth of their total revenue, announced earlier this year that it was ending its relationship with Ticketmaster and bringing its ticketing needs for its international chain of venues in-house via a deal with European ticketing agency CTS Eventim.

Since then Live Nation, who through the powerful leverage that their innovative 360 deals with major artists such as Jay-Z and Madonna provided, were able to lure away a number of Ticketmasters former clients by offering access to forthcoming tours by these major artists, leaving Ticketmaster looking like the a typewriter manufacturer on the dawn of the personal computer era.

All that may change with the Front Line deal. Front Line represents a wide range of major artists, including the Eagles, Jimmy Buffett, Neil Diamond, Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac, Christina Aguilera, Stevie Nicks, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Chicago, Journey, and Guns N' Roses and the new union between Front Line and Ticketmaster may well provide them with the muscle they need to go head to head with Live Nation.

"Now we have the opportunity to redefine the business at a time of great change and opportunity. Consumers, artists, teams and venues will all benefit from this exciting new Ticketmaster Entertainment platform going forward. I can't wait to create the future of the business with my new senior colleagues at Ticketmaster, Sean Moriarty, Terry Barnes, and Eric Korman." said Azoff of the deal.

Azoff contends that he's planning to be even-handed, telling the Wall Street Journal said he wouldn't attempt to use the combined resources of the new company to give his clients an advantage in the market for concertgoers' dollars. "All artists will benefit," he said, "whether they're Front Line artists or not."

Some observers have noted that Azoff may be on the way to making Ticketmaster the newest major player in concert promotion which has been the major profit center in the music business in recent years. Either way, the combination of Ticketmaster's infrastructure and contacts in the venue world and Front Line's client roster will allow Azoff to continue to be a major player in the live music industry. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers

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