Live Nation’s Universal Coverage

Sometimes Live Nation deals – like merging with Ticketmaster – catch the attention of the world. Other deals come in on little cat feet.

Irving Azoff, speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch investor conference in Beverly Hills Sept. 15, said Live Nation was about to announce an “acquisition” of a major management company. But the actual announcement between Live Nation and Universal Music Group, which oversees several management companies, did not create an uproar.

Even though the announcement combines the world’s largest management, ticketing, concert promotion and record company, few media outlets mentioned “anti-trust” in their coverage. That’s possibly because whenever Azoff’s Front Line Management announces (or keeps quiet about) a new relationship with a management company, it has shied away from words like “merger” or “acquisition,” opting instead for “strategic alliance.”

That means companies under the Front Line umbrella like Vector Management or RMP Management operate independently of Front Line – although Azoff did note at the conference he recently chastised “one of my prima donna managers” for firing Kid Rock because of bad behavior.

Still, the alliance is not expected to keep UMG artists from doing what they want. Instead, the partnership is expected to help create and sell concert ticket packages that bundle in merchandise for Universal artists. Also, UMG can now focus on selling records and leave its management companies to the guidance of Front Line.

UMG’s management companies include Sanctuary, Bill Curbishley’s Trinifold, Twenty First Artists and 5B. (Sanctuary and 5B recently merged to form Sanctuary5B Entertainment, run by Carl Stubner and Corey Brennan with a roster that includes Fleetwood Mac, India.Arie, Slipknot, As I Lay Dying and ZZ Top.) Trinifold’s roster is The Who, Robert Plant and Judas Priest.

UMG also has Bravado, a merchandising branch that more than complements Live Nation’s merch division.

No money has changed hands with the UMG deal although Live Nation is said to get a 51 percent stake in the combined companies, a source told the New York Post.

Azoff and Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said at the investor conference that the company, after a flat year (itself a positive in times like these), is poised for a better 2012. The company will take advantage of the Summer Olympic Games in London with high-profile concerts overseas.

Also, Azoff mentioned a new relationship that should pay big dividends: Front Line will manage all the winners of Simon Cowell’s massively hyped “X Factor,” which will probably produce a live tour that will seek to match the success of “American Idol Live.”