AEG Live Chief Randy Phillips Discusses Partnership With Billboard

Deal Will Build Out Branded Award Shows, Use Music to Lure Marketers to Events

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NEW YORK -- This week AEG Live, the Los Angeles live-entertainment division of AEG, formed a long-term partnership with Nielsen's Billboard magazine to collaborate on live events and TV awards shows. Madison & Vine asked Randy Phillips, president-CEO of AEG Live, what a print media business has to offer the burgeoning events field.
Randy Phillips, president-CEO of AEG Live: 'I look at Billboard as a brand that has meaning both to industry and the consumer.'

What is the appeal of a print product like Billboard to a live-entertainment company? "Remember something -- Billboard's not just a print product, it's a brand. The Billboard newsletter, which is digitally distributed every day, is probably the quickest access to information on a day-in, day-out basis. You might ask why would anyone buy a newspaper? Sometimes it's not as much for the newsprint as it is for the infrastructure that gathers in the information.

"This is a combination of both. I look at Billboard as a brand that has meaning both to industry and the consumer. It's very rare to find that. And from a credibility standpoint their charts are really the standard of the industry."

And why are you interested in enlisting Billboard in your work? "The credibility thing goes back to the fact that at AEG and AEG Live basically we're trying to branch out into content in addition to owning, running and operating facilities and sports teams and being the second-largest concert-promotion team in the world. As a company it's not enough to just be a promoter any more. You really need to service your client from A to Z. What I mean by that is that the record industry is in a state of flux. Until they come out of this morass with a new business plan on how to monetize music we have to help them break acts or else I'm going to run out of headliners.

"We develop content that is peculiar to us like the awards. Traditional broadcast and new media are really great ways to help the industry break more talent."

Do advertisers and marketers play into the partnership and its goals? "Big time. First of all, AEG as a business has phenomenal sponsor relations. It's really the basis of our business. If you look at the things that we build and run, they all have naming rights, deals and partners. We spend a lot of our time selling and servicing corporate America, and I believe corporate America can benefit from being associated with great music. Music will always be in the fabric of people's lives. How they get it, how they pay for it or whether someone else pays, that's the future."

What kind of new productions will the partnership produce? "The first thing we're going to do is help revamp and grow an already successful show, the Billboard Latin Music Awards, which just took place in Miami. Were going to negotiate a new deal with either Telemundo or Univision, then we're going to take it to a whole new level. Next we're going to focus on the Billboard Music Awards and turning it around and rebuilding it into a powerhouse show, which may include not just recorded music but also include live touring. The other goal is to launch a new called show with the Billboard Country Music Awards. We're trying to find a niche where we can create and contribute something new in that area."

Not to be rude, but from a consumer perspective, aren't there enough awards shows already? "You know what? I would have said yes, but last year the American Music Awards were up significantly in the ratings, the Grammys had one of their best years ever, so obviously people are tuning in. If you do an award show right, it's basically a kick-ass variety show. Television and even new-media broadcasting, whether it's MySpace or AOL or MSN, is a really great way to develop talent and expose talent, whether it's established or not, to a broad audience instead of relying as the industry has for so long on terrestrial radio."
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