The longtime music manager will be CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, which vows to develop “artist-friendly and, as a result, fan-friendly projects” in music, TV, and digital media. Irving Azoff will own 50% by folding in Azoff Music Management, where he’ll continue to handle clients including the Eagles, Steely Dan, Van Halen, and Christina Aguilera. Madison Square Garden will kick in $125M for its 50% and will provide as much as $50M in revolving credit loans. Outside of music management, Azoff and MSG Executive Chairman Jim Dolan see themselves largely as a source of venture capital. “We don’t know what the next big thing is going to be, but we want our phone to ring so we get a chance to help find it and nurture it,” Azoff tells me. “This was a dream we had to have a place where we could move quickly.”
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Although Azoff’s roots are in music, the new company also plans to be active in television: Former NFL programming and entertainment chief Lawrence Randall will lead the effort to buy and produce shows including live entertainment. In addition, Azoff MSG will own 90% of a music publishing venture run by industry vets Randy Grimmett and Sean O’Malley. It will have 50% of Digital Brand Architects, which manages bloggers. It also will be a partner with ACTV8 and United Talent Agency in the rollout of a TV show to discover street musicians called Streets Of The City. Azoff says they plan to announce a network and a foreign partner “shortly”.
Azoff and Dolan are longtime allies. (Among other things, Azoff manages Dolan’s blues band: JD and the Straight Shot.) “We’ve always wanted to do this kind of thing,” Dolan says. “We’re finally in a position where we can do that. … We’ve been collaborating on ideas and relating as business executives for a long time. This is a natural outgrowth of that.”