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NEAR TRUTHS: THE DISRUPTIONS OF 2019, PART 3

TICKET TAKING: Live Nation recently celebrated its umpteenth straight boffo quarter—in fact, the highest quarter yet for operating income. Revenue for the first nine months was up 6% over 2018 to $8.7b. Michael Rapino’s behemoth also saw robust global growth, and its stock was rated a strong buy. Live Nation-presented, Guy Oseary/Maverick-repped U2, by the by, was just dubbed Touring Artist of the Decade, having grossed north of $1.03 billion over the course of 10 years.

CAA remains the unchallenged leader among agencies in the music space under Rob Light’s leadership. This as the drama continues over WME’s failed IPO—and the downside of that debacle for its key agents, who got gornisht when Ari and Patrick took $160m out of the company. Despite another ill-fated deal, the abortive UTA-Paradigm merger, Paradigm’s team continues to strengthen its position by being ahead of the curve in signing top acts and showing real growth.

SWIRV ON (AND ON): In 2019, Irving Azoff continues to be, well, Irving Azoff. For starters, there was his oversight of superstar acts and the flourishing of Jeffrey and Brandon’s Full Stop venture (Fleetwood Mac, Dead & CompanyEagles, Travis Scott, John Mayer, Lizzo and a huge Harry Styles tour to come). On top of that, Swirv continued to rearrange the live and sports landscape with The Azoff Co. and his Oak View Group/Arena Alliance behemoth, carried on throwing cats among the PRO pigeons and advocating on Capitol Hill via his Global Music Rights org and Music Artists Coalition PAC, and fed hungry Angelenos, alongside better half Shelli, via storied eateries Nate’n Al’s and The Apple Pan. In 2020, look for Irving to continue to be Irving.

Meanwhile, sources claim AEG PresentsJay Marciano and company had an incredible year, with over 14k shows—including 25 festivals—accounting for over 25 million tickets sold and over $2 billion in gross sales. Whoa.

BIG MACHINES, AND RAGE AGAINST SAME: One of the highest-profile deals of the year was the one that combined the worlds of Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta. The union of Braun’s Ithaca with Borchetta’s Big Machine—allegedly valued at $300 million—seemed poised to give the power duo a combined leverage greater than the sum of their parts. It also allowed them to take a big pile of chips off the table. (Scooter further expanded the empire with the acquisition of Atlas Publishing.) The only fly in the ointment? Taylor Swift, now separated from her Big Machine catalog and promising to re-record her earlier material under the banner of her Republic deal. Meanwhile, rumors circulated of plans for mondo BMLG repackaging of her original recordings, live cuts and possible treasures from the vault. Swift even charged that her nemeses might prevent her from performing her old songs on the American Music Awards, though no such thing was contemplated. Ditto with the alleged withholding of rights for the Netflix doc, which were cleared a while ago. Much behind-the-scenes maneuvering culminated in a full-blown (and ugly) PR war, with Taylor weaponizing her fans on the socials against the Scott/Scooter entity —sending chills down the spines of many. The contentious rhetoric continued at the Women in Music event in L.A. on 12/12.

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ROCK HALL INDUCTEES:
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JUST THE VAX, MA'AM
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
WORLDWIDE GROOVE
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?
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