2012 In Review

We’ve been writing this page for more than five years now and each time we make a Big Reveal as to What The Year Means. 

A few years ago, it was about a merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster. With five lost souls at a fair in Indiana, event safety was the focus of 2011. In between it was about the economy, stupid.

As for 2012, there really wasn’t any dominant events, or directions – be it the AEG purchase offer or Hurricane Sandy – that amalgamated into a theme.

Or was there?

One item mentioned in our Aug. 6 issue nearly passed us by while compiling this article: Live Nation is building a shed in Austin, Texas. The Tower Amphitheatre will be integrated into Circuit of the Americas, the only Formula 1 racetrack in the U.S.

And yet, there it is: the first major amphitheatre to be built in decades, and the first major amphitheatre built by Live Nation since its inception. Recent new amphitheatres in Tuscaloosa and St. Augustine have caps of around 4,000 and 7,000. This one will house 15,000. Is it a symbolic sign of recovery?

That’s just one of several promising items of 2012. AEG is on the auction block but not from an economic shortfall.

Some speculate it has to do with maneuvering for a Los Angeles stadium or to free up the retirement years of owner Philip Anschutz. Whatever the case, a company that owns real estate across the globe is likely in pretty good shape.
Meanwhile, Madison Square Garden Entertainment is expanding into Los Angeles, buying The Forum in Inglewood from Faithful Central Bible Church for $23.5 million and beginning an extensive renovation of the house Jerry West built.

Goldenvoice and a city councilman in Indio, Calif., got into a lovers quarrel but the end result was a long-term agreement that will keep the promotion company’s Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals in the desert city for years to come. Goldenvoice was given one-year contracts for the past 12 years.

Likewise, 2012 was the year Coachella had twin festivals. It is becoming a trend, with C3 Presents offering back-to-back Austin City Limits Music Festivals in 2013.

And then there’s EDM. The once-underground genre has exploded, with shows like Electric Daisy Carnival moving from the Los Angeles Convention Center to accommodate hundreds of thousands at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. People like billionaire Robert Sillerman have taken notice, and Live Nation bought electronic dance promoter Hard Events while Paradigm brought in EDM agency AM Only.

“This is definitely the biggest it’s gotten,” Insomniac Productions’ Pasquale Rotella told Pollstar. “No doubt about it. People with much more money and bigger accomplishments under their belts have jumped in this round.”

There’s an underused expression – “Only Nixon could go to China” – and in 2012 it applied to one of America’s top comedians, Louis CK.  While the concert industry debated the future of ticketing and the value of major ticketing companies, CK went and sold tickets himself, facilitated by Etix. He sold tickets from his website for $45, without service fees. It proved performers could offer tickets at face value.

Also, Hurricane Sandy spurred a massive benefit concert, held Dec. 12 in Madison Square Garden and starring Bruce SpringsteenRoger WatersBon JoviKanye WestThe Rolling Stones and Billy Joel. Initial proceeds of $50 million handed to white-collar charity Robin Hood Foundation are to be distributed to “organizations helping to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy.”

But for all the bright signs, some things never change. Case in point the University of Hawaii, which outsmarted itself trying to get a bargain price for a Stevie Wonder benefit concert.

Instead of going through Wonder’s agency of record, CAA, officials decided to try a middle “agent” that operated out of a P.O. Box in Florida. They’re still waiting for a miracle refund of $220,000.

Of course there was the bad – from the damage of Sandy to a stagnant economy in Atlantic City to a stage collapse in Ontario that killed Radiohead’s drum tech and nearly killed the entire band. Weather was not an issue, and it spurred efforts to ensure good production practices.

But overall, it appears maybe it’s time we put on a happy face.