The O2 London Wants ‘All Promoters’

In the midst of an ongoing turf war with

The O2 – London
– The O2 – London

MSG got Neil Diamond, who wanted to play MSG’s  in New York, to also commit to its Forum in L.A., thereby shunning AEG’s Staples Center during his tour in August.

AEG attempted in January to tie J. Cole to the , as the rapper also wanted to play London’s O2.

The move sparked the threat of anti-trust action from J. Cole promoter Live Nation. AEG claims to have only reacted to what has been common MSG practice.

“Our hand has been forced by MSG’s actions and AEG will now coordinate bookings between The O2 arena and Staples Center to level the playing field for all. We believe that AEG’s offering of venues will provide artists the greatest financial potential and fans the best experience,” AEG said in a statement.

“While this coordinated booking strategy seeks to defend our business interests, our ultimate objective remains protecting and restoring choice for artists. Our policy is not intended in any way to deny Live Nation, or any other promoter, access to The O2 arena. To the contrary, we desire to bring as much content as possible to all of our venues and we will continue to actively seek concert bookings at The O2 from all promoters including Live Nation.”

AEG declined Pollstar’s request for further comment.

Offering artist bundles is not unheard of, especially in the festival space.

However, there’s a limit to the practice because, ultimately, it’s the artists and agents who decide. High-profile acts in particular won’t want to be dictated which venues to play.

AEG described Live Nation’s anti-trust threat in response to its booking policy as “the height of hypocrisy coming from a company that publicly boasts about its control of content and distribution as the world’s largest concert promoter and ticketing company and one of the world’s leading artist management companies.”

The company claims “Live Nation has a well-earned and widespread reputation for resorting to aggressive tactics, including threatening to withhold its content, as it continually seeks to enhance its dominant market position in these various sectors,” a fact which was “evidenced by a parade of antitrust lawsuits, regulatory investigations and an antitrust consent decree that have followed the company over the years.”

AEG believes Live Nation didn’t complain about MSG Entertainment’s move to tie acts to its venues, but even “actively encouraged and supported that policy because it suited Live Nation’s interests in driving content away from a competitively ticketed building to a Ticketmaster building.”

To AEG, this showed “how well equipped Live Nation is to punish any buildings that dare go with a competing ticketing provider.”

The company intends to proceed with its new booking policy. As it believes to be acting fully within the bounds of the law, it stated to “vigorously defend any misguided attempts by Live Nation to use the courts or the regulatory system to combat a practice they have aggressively pursued and benefitted from elsewhere.”

AEG maintains that it only resorted to this booking policy “after exhausting all avenues.”

Live Nation and MSG Entertainment both declined to comment.