Industry News

AEG, MSG battle escalates with O2 Arena ban

Acts that play The Forum in Los Angeles will no longer be able to book London’s O2 Arena in an escalation of the battle between Azoff-MSG Entertainment and AEG Live.

The Variety website reports the action is a response by AEG after MSG allegedly refused to host artists that chose to play its rival’s 21,000-capacity Staples Center in Los Angeles instead of its own 18,000-capacity Forum (pictured).

The latest development means those artists who play at MSG’s Forum could be barred from playing the only London indoor venue with a capacity of more than 20,000.

Variety reports that Live Nation “responded unfavourably” when the news was given to agents and promoters last week. The website reports that it believes the action to be anticompetitive and violates antitrust laws on the basis of the absence of a venue of comparable size in London.

The two companies have been at odds since AEG Live moved most of its venues from Ticketmaster to AXS Ticketing following the 2009 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

The MSG-Staples standoff began earlier this year and has affected several major artists, including Chance the Rapper and Roger Waters.

‘Level the playing field’

While Live Nation and Azoff-MSG did not comment, in a statement provided to Variety, a spokesperson for AEG said: “AEG always places artists and fans first and believes that artists should be free to play whatever venue they choose.

“However, MSG Entertainment’s aggressive practice of requiring artists to perform at the LA Forum in order to secure dates at Madison Square Garden is eliminating that choice, which serves neither the interests of artists nor fans.

“After exhausting all avenues, 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.

“Live Nation’s threat of antitrust action in response to our booking policy is 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.”

IMAGE: Ritapepaj

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