2014 In Review

Acquisitions bookended 2014, beginning with William Morris Endeavor announcing its acquisition of sports and entertainment giant IMG and ending with Live Nation finalizing its own deal with the industry’s largest independent promoter, C3 Presents. 

But Live Nation was in the news all year for various initiatives, all of which contributed to the company’s growth. LYV stock opened the year at $19.91, and by Dec. 31 rose to $26.11, thanks to record revenues and expanding its footprint in global markets as well as the festival space.

Its Budweiser Made In America festival also debuted on the city’s downtown Grand Park space in September, joining its original counterpart in Philadelphia. But it was the Live Nation-promoted One Direction stadium tour that ruled them all. The U.K. vocal group provided the runaway tour of the year, selling out stadiums in every corner of the globe starting in South America and including two sold-out days at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Country music was also a big winner in 2014, with one superstar taking a stadium victory lap before retiring and another coming out of retirement to rack up huge ticket sales with arena residencies.

George Strait closed out his “The Cowboy Rides Away” tour with the largest indoor single-show attendance at  in Texas. With 104,793 fans packing the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium, Strait ended his career with a one time gross of $18,194,374. Garth Brooks, on the other hand, came out of retirement in September with a residency at  in Rosemont, Ill.

By year’s end, Brooks did multiple arena dates in eight markets, as he casually made his way around the country. Billy Joel also launched his own residency at Madison Square Garden to become the venue’s first musical “franchise,” ringing up monthly sold-out dates on his home court.

Overall, while critics may lament the rise of “Bro Co” – goodtime, tailgaiting, truck-driving, beer-drinking music from the likes of Luke BryanJason AldeanFlorida Georgia Line, and a slew of newcomers, there’s no denying it has box office power.

Bryan, Aldean and FGL each mounted hugely successful tours in 2014 – and, in some cases, fans took the tailgate theme to extremes in parking lots at stadiums and sheds across the country. Reigning queen Taylor Swift dropped a couple of bombshells of her own in 2014. Swift announced a conscious uncoupling from Music Row as she released a strictly pop album, moved to New York and was named an ambassador to the Big Apple as she released 1989¸ the first album of the year to reach platinum status and spawning the ubiquitous “Shake It Off.”

Despite dire predictions from wags back in Nashville, Swift is poised to rule 2015. But Swift made waves outside of the country vs. pop realm as well. She withdrew her entire catalogue from streaming powerhouse Spotify and, with several other artists following suit, proved to be a formidable opponent. Streaming services, particularly YouTube, came under additional fire in the second half of the year.

Go-to mogul Irving Azoff formed performing rights organization Global Rights Services and ended the new year rattling his formidable sword at the online video service over 20,000 songs, for which he figures YouTube owes $1 billion. Azoff also bookended the year with a grand start in a completely different arena – turning the old  in Inglewood, Calif., into something new, and exciting, again.

Among his first endeavors after creating joint venture Azoff MSG with pal Jim Dolan was a complete repurposing of the former home of the L.A. Lakers and Kings. After acquiring it from a church, AMSG gutted the building, replaced seats, refurbished the Forum Club and put a giant turntable on top before formally opening with the  on Jan. 15. During the band’s stay, a giant Eagles “album” was visible from air traffic coming and going from nearby L.A. International Airport. 

See Also:

2014 Year End Special Features