Irving Azoff (//; born December 12, 1947) is an American entertainment executive and chairman of Full Stop Management, which represents recording artists.
Since September 2013, he has been chairman and CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, a venture with The Madison Square Garden Company. Prior to this he served as chairman and CEO of Ticketmaster Entertainment and was executive chairman of Live Nation Entertainment and CEO of Front Line Management. He is also on the board of Starz Inc. and IMG.
In 2012, he topped Billboard's Power 100 and was named the most powerful person in the music industry.
Raised in a Jewish family in Danville, Illinois, Azoff began promoting and booking bands while a student at Danville High School and then in college at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. His first management client was Champaign-based REO Speedwagon; his second was Dan Fogelberg. In 1972, Azoff headed to Los Angeles with Fogelberg. He worked for Geffen-Roberts Management and there began working with the Eagles, a relationship that has lasted more than forty years. During his career he has worked as an agent, personal manager, concert promoter, movie producer, independent record label owner, merchandiser, music publisher, and CEO of a record company.
From 1983 to 1989, Azoff was chairman of MCA Music Entertainment Group and is credited for turning around that label's fortunes.
According to Thomas R. King's book The Operator (2001), David Geffen manipulated Azoff into leaving MCA and going to Warner Music Group, where Azoff started Giant Records. King writes that Geffen wanted Azoff out at MCA to clear the way for MCA to buy Geffen Records. Geffen convinced Mo Ostin at Warner Music to offer Irving Azoff a "dream" label deal. Giant Records operated for much of the 1990s until Azoff decided to return to concentrating on artist management.
Azoff co-produced the movies Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Urban Cowboy, Jack Frost, Above The Rim, and The Inkwell, and was executive producer of The Hurricane. He has been named "Manager of the Year" by two touring industry trade publications. In 2012, Azoff appeared in Artifact, a documentary film about the modern music business focused on the legal battle between Thirty Seconds to Mars and record label EMI.
In 2013, Azoff founded the performance rights organisation Global Music Rights. The company administers publishing for artists including Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon and George Harrison, Pearl Jam, and Bruno Mars.
In October 2008, ticketing and marketing company Ticketmaster announced they would acquire the management company Front Line Management Group, Inc. As part of the deal, Azoff, who was founder and chief executive officer of Front Line, became chief executive officer of Ticketmaster and was named chairman of Live Nation in February 2011.
In September 2013, Azoff unveiled Azoff MSG Entertainment, a venture with The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG). In addition to his role as chairman and CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, Azoff would serve as a consultant to MSG in connection with the management of its live event venues, including the Forum in Inglewood, CA and other MSG-managed buildings.
In 2012, he topped Billboard Magazine's Power 100, being named the most powerful person in the music industry. Azoff serves on the boards of iHeartCommunications, Inc. and Starz LLC.
In 2019, Azoff and his wife Shelli purchased The Apple Pan, one of Los Angeles' oldest continuing operating restaurants. They also purchased Nate n'Al's, founded in 1945, with a consortium of Los Angeles-based investors.
In January 2020, Azoff was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an Ahmet Ertegun Award winner.
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger
Irving Azoff served as the Chairman of Ticketmaster and was influential in securing approval for the company's merger with Live Nation Entertainment. Following the merger, Azoff served as the executive chairman of Live Nation. Prior to the merger, Ticketmaster had been the subject of multiple investigations into anti-competitive practices.
The merger faced many legal hurdles and opposition. The merger was opposed by members of the United States Congress, business rivals such as AEG Live, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), whose members include Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Yahoo, Intuit, and eBay. Despite the opposition, the merger was still approved in 2010.
In 2018, the United States Department of Justice launched an investigation following complains that Live Nation had engaged in anti-competitive practices following the merger. AEG has alleged that Live Nation had pressured them into using Ticketmaster as a venue. If AEG had refused, they would have lost out on business. The allegations of antitrust violations have resulted in a re-examination of the merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation. Much of the initial criticisms of the merger has been re-affirmed. Irving Azoff's battles with rivals AEG (who are alleging antitrust violations) have been well documented, especially in regard to competition in the Los Angeles and New York City markets.
In a 2018 lawsuit, Radio Music License Committee made monopolization claims in a California court against Azoff's Global Music Rights, LLC, a performance rights organization. They claim that the company is not being held to the same consent decrees as BMI and ASCAP. The matter is being investigated by the DOJ. It is claimed that the company is in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Clippers Arena proposal
Controversy was generated when Azoff MSG Entertainment took part in a lawsuit against the city of Inglewood in an attempt to stop the construction of a new arena for the Los Angeles Clippers in Inglewood. The new arena would compete directly with The Forum which is owned by The Madison Square Garden Company. Another lawsuit from a local community group was filed to block the construction of the venue in June 2018. Inglewood mayor James Butts suggested that the lawsuit was brought about by "business interests from out-of-state", suggesting that Azoff and the Madison Square Garden Company were using this group to ensure that they don't have a competing arena nearby. The attempts to block the arena are similar to the tactics successfully used by the Madison Square Garden Company to stop the construction of the proposed West Side Stadium in New York City in 2005. That proposed stadium would have directly competed with Madison Square Garden. In December 2018, the LA Clippers sued the Madison Square Garden company alleging that they were trying to prevent the construction of a competing arena. During the summer of 2019, it was reported that Azoff was still working with James L. Dolan of the Madison Square Garden Company to prevent the competing arena from being built. Amongst the tactics being used to prevent the construction of the arena are lobbying efforts in the 2018 Inglewood mayoral election, financially supporting community groups which oppose the arena and helping to fund lawsuits seeking to prevent the arena's construction.
In March 2019, leaked emails revealed that Azoff attempted to lure the Los Angeles Lakers back to The Forum after their lease at the Staples Center was up. Despite nothing coming of the proposal, Azoff's proposal to re-purpose The Forum was seen as a way of preventing the LA Clippers from building their own arena in Inglewood and ensuring that the Madison Square Garden Company got an unfair advantage over rival AEG, which already owns part of the Lakers.
60th Grammy Awards
When the 60th Annual Grammy Awards were held in New York City, Azoff informed former MusiCares Executive VP, Dana Tomarken that the MusiCares Person of the Year tribute to Fleetwood Mac would be held at Radio City Music Hall (which is owned by The Madison Square Garden Company) and not at the Barclays Center (which is operated by AEG). Dana Tomarken had been negotiating a deal to have the MusiCares Person of the Year tribute to Fleetwood Mac to be held at the Barclays Center. Neil Portnow, president of The Recording Academy, decided to have it at Radio City Music Hall without consulting Tomarken, who was instead informed of this change by Irving Azoff as head of Azoff MSG Entertainment. Tomarken subsequently made a claim of wrongful termination. TIn May 2019, it was reported that by having the MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute to Fleetwood Mac at Radio City Music Hall, Oak View Group which is associated with Azoff received 300 of the highest price tickets to the MusiCares event. Oak View Group was supposed to sell them as a package deal which also included tickets to the Grammy Awards itself. MusiCares was promised to received $1.5 million from those tickets according to Dana Tomarken. Those 300 tickets were not sold and were then returned to MusiCares, therefore resulting in a loss.
Nicki Minaj controversy
In 2018, Nicki Minaj accused Azoff of orchestrating a smear campaign against her. Minaj alleged that Azoff contacted people in the media to say negative things about her and her tour. She had suggested that he had used his influence through Ticketmaster in a way that harmed her tour. As of 2019, Minaj was managed by Azoff, which was announced on her Queen Radio Show.