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Azoff’s series of empire-expanding triumphs brings to mind the memorable line from a song by longtime clients Steely Dan: “He’s the king of the world, as far as I know.”
I.B. BAD ON IRVING AZOFF:
MAN WITH A PLAN
Mega-Manager and Legendary Dealmaker
Gets Ready to Face His Next Challenge
The month of October was business as usual for Irving Azoff. For starters, he combined the world’s biggest management company with Ticketmaster to create a new-model 800-pound gorilla that instantly alters the topography of the music industry. Simultaneously, the concept he pioneered a year ago with the EaglesWal-Mart exclusive gained further traction, as AC/DC’s album debuted with 800k+ through Columbia’s exclusive with the same retailer, while anticipation was building to a fever pitch on the upcoming album from Azoff clients Guns N’ Roses, which he set up as an exclusive with Best Buy.

This series of empire-expanding triumphs brings to mind the memorable line from a song by Azoff’s longtime clients Steely Dan: “He’s the king of the world, as far as I know.”

Since 1971, when he came to L.A. from his native Illinois and joined the Geffen Roberts management company, adding the Eagles to a client roster that included Joe Walsh and Dan Fogelberg, and catapulting the band into the stratosphere, Azoff has been the living embodiment of Al Davis’ credo, “Just win, baby!” But unlike the Raiders owner, Azoff has remained at the top of his game and ahead of the curve from one era to the next.

In 1983, he accepted Sid Sheinberg’s offer to take the reins of MCA Records, reshaping the moribund company into an industry powerhouse. In a dramatic demonstration of his unequaled deal-making ability, Azoff sold his Front Line Management to MCA when he took the job, buying it back at a drastically reduced price in 1989, when he left to launch Giant. And while Giant Records stands as a minor speed bump in Azoff’s meteoric career arc, he made up for it by quietly rebuilding Front Line into a formidable company during those same years, capping it off by reuniting with his former partner, the enigmatic Howard Kaufman. Consequently, as the music business staggers through its worst period ever in this decade, Azoff has never been more successful, powerful or universally respected than he is today.

Now that Azoff has control of Ticketmaster, the question on everyone’s lips is, what will he do with it? As a savvy, opportunistic businessman, he obviously sees the potential of TM’s heavily trafficked site as an online retail center for the music and merchandise of his stable of artists. But in order for Ticketmaster.com to become a viable destination for his brands, the site must be radically revamped. Although 144 million tickets were sold on the site in 2007, it has drawn countless complaints from irate consumers, who say that what should be a simple transaction is a maddening experience in reality.

Most believe that transforming Ticketmaster.com into an attractive and intuitive online environment along the lines of iTunes, Amazon and eBay should be at the very top of Azoff’s to-do list. This will be a daunting challenge, but history has taught us never to underestimate the man’s now-legendary Midas touch.

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