Former Live Nation U.K. managing director Stuart Galbraith made sure his public return to the live music business was a low-key affair compared with the drama of the previous two months, studiously avoiding any mention of his upcoming future with AEG.
"I can’t say what I’ll be doing next in case there are any lawyers from Live Nation listening to what I’m saying," he explained as he introduced himself to delegates at Live UK – The Summit, surely mindful that the High Court agreement he’s reached with his former employer pretty much gags both sides on the matter.
Galbraith had already been very quick to pick up on what co-panelist and Virtual Festivals.com founder Steve Jenner said when introducing himself.
Jenner had finished by telling the audience about Virtual’s annual awards, which will be announced at a special prize-giving ceremony at London’s KoKo November 6.
"I won’t be winning any festival awards this year because I don’t have any festivals," was Galbraith’s opening line. His hard-nosed legal battle with Live Nation has produced its share of lighter moments.
Download Festival, the event he created with Live Nation, has won several festival awards and is up for best major festival at this year’s Virtuals.
Although an October 3 press conference to say he’ll be working with AEG was canceled because Live Nation got an injunction to prevent him from talking about it, both sides have since settled on a binding agreement over how long and to what extent Galbraith needs to stay out of the business to avoid breaching the restrictive covenants in his old LN contract.
Turning up to the U.K.’s newest live music industry conference and appearing on a panel called "A Festival Too Far?" was hardly likely to breach any of the gagging clauses in that High Court settlement. Galbraith was quick to hint that any awkward questions on the subject would have to be left unanswered.
Even without the gag, he could have done little more than confirm the common industry knowledge that he’ll be setting up a new company funded by AEG as soon as he’s seen out his Live Nation gardening leave.
AEG Live president and chief exec Randy Phillips has already gone public on that much and also revealed that the new outfit will be called Kilimanjaro.
The biggest cost to Galbraith would be if his current period of inactivity, which is likely to last for most of the rest of this year, hampered any attempt he may have been making to compete with Live Nation for the renewal of the contract to run regular gigs in London’s Hyde Park.
He created and ran the summer outdoor shows although the company holds the contract, which could well mean there’s more to the battle with Galbraith (and thereby AEG) than just the two Los Angeles-based live entertainment giants squaring up over matters of loyalty and principle.
Galbraith was one of an impressive lineup of Summit panelists including Ticketmaster U.K. managing director Chris Edmonds, National Arenas Association chairman Geoff Huckstep, DF Concerts and T In The Park Festival director Geoff Ellis, X-Ray Touring co-founder Ian Huffam, and See Tickets managing director Nick Blackburn.
The moderators included music business lawyer Sarah Waddington (Collins Long), Wembley Arena GM Peter Tudor, Bravado International’s Jake Leighton-Pope – whose father Carl is a conference panel legend – and Live UK news editor James Drury.
The three-day conference was organised by Audience Media Ltd., publishers of the monthly Audience and Live UK magazines.
Confirmed attendance figures weren’t available at press time but the delegates list had more than 250 names on it and the organisers reported a higher than expected walk-up on the first two days.
It was held at London’s Park Lane InterContinental Hotel October 22-24 and is Audience Media managing editor Steve Parker’s bid to create a U.K. live music conference that complements ILMC, the annual London-based international live music conference.
The production included having the panels relayed to the exhibition area and the bar, although they were relatively deserted because most of the sessions were well-attended.
The major sponsors included See Tickets, Showsec and Academy Music Group.