Don’t tell Live Nation executives that their concert acts are getting old. While one-time hitmaker Neil Diamond continues to hit the stage at age 70, Chairman Irving Azoff says that “every year there’s a Taylor Swift, or Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga.” He adds: “We’re managing all the winners of The X Factor. We predict the tour will be huge. It’s Idol plus The Voice plus Glee on steroids.” That kind of shameless self promotion was the order of the day this afternoon as Azoff and CEO Michael Rapino made the investment case for their concert venue, talent management, and ticketing colossus at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media Communications and Entertainment conference. Rapino says that “in an overall tough economic time, we’re thrilled that the industry came off a horrible year and stabilized…. We will finish the year flat to up as an industry and the early pipeline for 2012 looks good.”
Azoff says that Live Nation plans to take advantage of the crowds that will flock to Europe next year around the Summer Olympics in London. “The biggest names in the business will be on the road,” he says. “We’ll get a non-economy blip.” One of his mainstays, The Eagles, continues to tour and plans a Broadway show called (what else?) Hotel California. “No one knows whether the Rolling Stones are touring or not,” Azoff says. The execs say that they’re also making deals that could pay off — including a soon-to-be-announced acquisition of a management team. They don’t all work: Azoff chastised “one of my prima donna managers” who fired Kid Rock for bad behavior. The company had fewer problems arranging for Jennifer Hudson to sell Weight Watchers diets, and Mariah Carey to hawk Jenny Craig. Meanwhile, the Live Nation chiefs say that they’re unfazed by the emergence of a ticketing operation from their top competitor, AEG, that might challenge Ticketmaster. The No. 2 concert company is poised to sell tickets at its own venues in a partnership with Outbox Technology. “We don’t believe they’ll have as good a ticketing solution,” Azoff says. “So far our renewal rates have been phenomenal.”
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