Former Live Nation Ticketmaster Chairman Irving Azoff ended months of industry speculation about his next move when he announced the creation of Azoff MSG Entertainment, a joint venture with the Madison Square Garden Company (MSGC). Azoff will contribute its substantial artist management business and other assets to the new company, while MSGC, led by executive director James Dolan, will contribute $125 million as well as a $50 million revolving line of credit in exchange for a 50% stake in the new firm.
Dolan and Azoff are no strangers and in 2008 MSGC was a key investor in Azoff's Front Line Management Group and later, Live Nation, where Azoff was chairman.
Azoff MSG Entertainment will be a new music, media and entertainment company offering artist management, global music rights management, television production and live event branding. The company will also own a 50% stake in Digital Brand Architects, which manages a roster of about 70 prominent bloggers and a 90% stake in Global Music Rights, a music publishing venture run by CEO Randy Grimmett and COO Sean O'Malley.
Azoff MSG Entertainment will also partner with Brian Schuster and digital technology company ACTV8, along with United Talent Agency, in "Streets of the City." "Streets" purports to be the first interactive, live music discovery TV show that allows viewers to scout street talent and support contestants on the show through crowd-funding on TV.
In addition to his role as Chairman and CEO of the Company, Irving Azoff will serve as a consultant to MSG in connection with the management of its live event venues. This includes the Forum in Inglewood, CA, which MSG acquired in June of 2013, and other MSG-managed buildings.
"This joint venture provides a unique opportunity for MSG to strengthen its position within the music, entertainment and media landscape in conjunction with Irving Azoff – one of the true giants of the industry," Dolan said. "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."
"The mission of our new venture is to go into a business where we can better an artist's welfare, well-being and their ability to market their products," Azoff added. "We're looking for 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."