John Giddings says he hasn’t made up his mind about what to do with his U.K. agency, but Bill Ballard’s appointment to the Live Nation board and the announcement of The Police headlining next year’s Isle Of Wight Festival suggest the decision will involve him sticking with his old gang.
The links between the Solo Agency chief, who quit Live Nation two years ago, and Ballard are almost as strong as those he’s forged with Michael Cohl and Arthur Fogel.
In 1990, Giddings sold 50 percent of Solo to ITG (International Talent Group), of which Cohl was an investor. When that split in 1995, he continued with Cohl in Ballard, Cohl, Labatt (BCL).
BCL was a traditional concert promoting company concentrating almost exclusively on the Canadian market, but it decided to give that up in favour of promoting entire tours.
The directors built the company up before selling out to House of Blues. Fogel’s TNA (The Next Adventure) was formed to produce those tours. It was at this stage that Giddings restructured his company with TNA.
Two months ago, Cohl sold his remaining 50 percent stake in CPI to Live Nation for US$17 million in common stock, bringing him totally within Michael Rapino’s fold.
Fogel’s position as global music chairman looks cemented in by LN’s new deal with Madonna, brought to the company via his running of her worldwide touring.
Cohl, a longtime business partner with Ballard, makes a joke of how many times he and Giddings have sold their companies but is staying tight-lipped on the possibility of Live Nation buying Solo again.
It may be that Giddings doesn’t want to do a full U-turn and sell out to LN for a second time, which could mean a role as Artist Nation’s VP of client acquisition in Europe is the best way forward.
Cohl has been quoted as saying that relationship will keep Giddings attached to his "umbilical cord" for a while. But it could also leave him free to continue to book certain acts – including Iggy Pop, Genesis, Westlife, Il Divo, The Corrs and David Bowie – as well as the Isle Of Wight Festival under his Solo banner.
Giddings told Pollstar November 26 he hasn’t made up his mind about exactly what he wants to do, although he said he’s likely to do so at some time in December and make an announcement at the turn of the year.
If the proposed changes in the U.K.’s rates for capital gains tax became law, Giddings would hang on to 8 percent more of his profit if he sells between January 1 and the beginning of the new tax year.
Despite recent U.K. music trade magazine reports saying he’s looking to "establish a strategic partnership between his agency and a record company," it’s more likely he’ll cement his relationship with his old mates and focus on working with Rapino, Cohl, Fogel and Ballard through Artist Nation.
A November 26 announcement confirmed The Police will headline the third and final night of next year’s IOW (June 13-15). Tickets go on sale December 10.
The IOW performance will route with the replacement shows Fogel and Giddings are arranging at venues where this summer’s dates were lost due to Sting’s throat infection.