Last July, AEG introduced a booking policy that basically means if an act wants to play the O2 Arena in London, they need to also play at the Staples Center in L.A., rather than the MSG Entertainment-controlled Forum.
They claim this move comes after MSG leveraged their booking for Madison Square Garden in a similar way, with acts being obliged to play the Forum in L.A. if they wanna play at MSG.
Needless to say, many acts and managers simply aren’t buying that reasoning.
Sharon Osbourne — Ozzy’s wife, manager, saviour, etc. — threatened to sue AEG earlier this year, and it seems they have gone through it, calling AEG a “monopolist for arena-sized venues in greater London”, stating in a lawsuit filed by Ozzy Osbourne that “through management contracts [AEG] also controls a number of other large concert venues in greater London in addition to the O2.”
This particular situation involves Ozzy’s No More Tours 2 tour. Live Nation attempted to book the o2 Arena, and “requested a date in February 2019, which AEG said was available—but only on the condition that Ozzy be bound by the Staples Center Commitment.”
The suit reads: “Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy’s wife and business manager, publicly complained about having to sign the Staples Center Commitment, but AEG would not relent.
“Ozzy commences this action (on his own behalf and for all similarly situated artists) to prohibit AEG from enforcing the Staples Center Commitment, an unlawful tying arrangement that unfairly leverages AEG’s dominance in greater London to distort and deter competition in greater Los Angeles.
“But because AEG’s conditions restrict his freedom (and the freedom of many other artists) to play at a venue of their choice, and because those conditions serve only to enrich AEG while restraining competition, Ozzy brings this Complaint to enjoin, nullify, and defeat the Staples Center Commitment on his own behalf and for all other similarly situated persons.”
Irving Azoff, chairman and CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, laid out the Live Nation/AEG beef for Billboard last April, explaining:
“Here’s what really goes on when Live Nation gets a big tour: The good folks at AEG bombard agents, managers and anyone else with blatant attempts to cost my team a bunch of $$$ at The Forum. They offer huge rebates at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, London’s The O2 Arena, Germany’s Barclaycard Arena and a residency on the moon to secure an act to play Staples Center. They know, of course, that it is unlikely they will deliver the Staples date, but they work for a hard-nosed businessman.
“Let’s be clear: Staples’ economics are different. Every single seat at The Forum is on the manifest. I’m told from my “sources” that on a big night at Staples, even without the suite revenue, by selling the extra stools in the suites, night clubs, premium and all the other non-manifest spots to the brokers and the secondary market they could easily generate more than $500,000. So they have a lot to offer up. If an act on a Live Nation tour should opt to play Staples with all those incentives, so be it. That’s competition. Not really above board, but good, tough business.”