AEG Presents, the U.S. concert and festivals giant, is setting-out a strategic play which could shake-up the Australian touring market, multiple sources tell TIO.
The live-entertainment arm of the L.A.-based Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) is essentially a silent partner in this noisy rambunctious, billion-dollar live entertainment space, through a long-time relationship with Michael Gudinski’s Frontier Touring.
That scenario serves both parties well, with AEG supplying Frontier Touring with an array of tours for Australia and New Zealand.
The company broke its silence last week when it tapped Frontier Touring’s touring director, Michael Harrison, for the position as senior vice president AEG global touring, based in L.A.
Harrison’s hire accompanied the arrival of David Rappaport as chief operating officer AEG global touring, an obvious sign the company was ramping up its worldwide endeavours under Gary Gersh, president AEG Presents global touring and talent.
Today, Frontier has filled the void left by Harrison’s departure with the appointment of Sahara Herald to the role of tour director.
Sahara, who joined Frontier in 2014 after an 18-year stint with Big Day Out, joins fellow tour director Gerard Schlaghecke alongside Mushroom Group chairman Michael Gudinski in securing productions for the independent company.
“Sahara has proven time and again her true passion for live music and hard work,” comments Gudinski in a statement.
“Since joining Frontier, she has played a key role in the success of a number of our tours and I’m incredibly excited to see her take this next step with the company as we continue to grow and diversify.”
The Melbourne-based entrepreneur also spoke for the first time on Harrison’s departure from his company, and hinted at more appointments to come.
“Michael Harrison has been a core part of the Frontier team for almost two decades,” Gudinski comments.
“It’s never easy to see a great staff member leave but I’m happy it’s to our good friends at AEG Presents. With his recently announced departure and Frontier’s rapid expansion in recent years, this has been a good time for us to review our situation and I’m pleased to say we will have some further exciting announcements about additions to the Frontier team soon.”
Frontier Touring’s calendar is loaded with tours for, Kylie Minogue, Norah Jones, Bryan Adams, Arctic Monkeys, Bryan Ferry, Rodriguez, Lily Allen and more. The Australian leg of David Byrne’s current American Utopia trek is produced by Frontier.
In what shape and form AEG Presents would have in Australia is unclear. AEG Presents (known as AEG Live until 2017) is the world’s second-largest concert promoter behind Live Nation, which has operated a wholly-owned company in Australia since 2010.
Live Nation spread its wings in these parts with the acquisition of Michael Coppel Presents back in 2012, a deal which set in motion a range of venue acquisitions on both sides of the Tasman, festival launches and a seemingly endless stream of hot-ticket shows. LN has been riding a winning streak, and AEG Presents wants in, sources say.
AEG already has a presence here through its AEG Ogden joint venture, which manages and operates a raft of venues including Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena, the Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Perth Arena, Brisbane Entertainment Centre and the Queensland capital’s Suncorp Stadium.
Frontier’s close relationship with AEG continues, a spokesperson confirms, with the companies partnering on the 2019 Shawn Mendes and Rodriguez tours.
Watch this space.