AEG has ended its relationship with AEG Live CEO and President Randy Phillips, who was a force in building the company into the second-largest concert promoter in the land, as part of reorganization nearly a year in the making.
During his decade-plus tenure, Phillips helped steer AEG Live into a global force – the company promoted The Rolling Stones’ U.S. tour in 2013, among many others.
He oversaw the expansion of the Los Angeles-based company with key hires and offices in Denver, Florida, Nashville and elsewhere. Digital and ticketing initiatives, along with the inking of TV and event producer Ken Ehrlich, expanded the company’s footprint far beyond that of concert promoter.
Phillips, like former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke, is an outsized personality who established himself as the public face of AEG Live, for good and sometimes for ill.
During the recent Jackson family wrongful death suit, he was accused of pushing Michael Jackson to an early death in the runup to a 50-date London residency.
The company was exonerated and Phillips removed from the suit, but revelations during trial did not burnish his image.
Yet, he also salvaged what surely would have been a financial disaster for the company by making a deal with Sony to turn MJ’s rehearsal footage into a hugely successful “This Is It!” documentary.
AEG CEO Dan Beckerman insists the fallout from the Jackson/AEG trial played no role in the company’s thinking in or timing of Phillips’ ouster.
The move comes less than eight months after the departure of Leiweke and the decision by Anschutz Company principal Philip Anschutz to withdraw the company from sale. AEG has been gradually reorganizing since that time, and the decision to part ways with Phillips appears to be as much about streamling the executive ranks as anything.
“It was time for us to make a change,” Beckerman told Pollstar. “Randy has done a tremendous job for us and helped build the company. As is often the case, it’s time to move in a different direction and he was fantastic for us.”
Jay Marciano, the industry veteran tapped by AEG to take on the COO role in March, takes over as chairman of AEG Live and will oversee a Los Angeles-based executive team comprised of Goldenvoice CEO Paul Tollett, President of Global Touring John Meglen, COO Shawn Trell and North America President Rick Mueller.
Rick Webking holds down the CFO position. AEG Live will more resemble the organizational structure of its parent company, with a chief exec and a team of highly skilled veterans working in collaboration, much like a board of directors would.
The executive team roles will all see expansion in 2014, according to Beckerman, with continued capital investment in new regional offices, personnel and festivals.
“For example, Paul (Tollett) does a lot more than Coachella and Goldenvoice. He’s a force within the company. He’s totally involved in the leadership and management as well as the direction and operation of AEG Live in other areas as well,” Beckerman said. “John Meglen is taking a broader role in the area of global touring. We have Shawn Trell at COO. He’s been with AEG for probably 15 years, most recently with AEG Live. He’s a strong contributor to the company for the last decade.
“Rick Mueller is taking on a broader role and will be responsible for overseeing our regional offices throughout the United States so he will obviously be taking on an expanded role as well.”
Beckerman also lauded the work of other key players, such as Louis Messina at TMG in Nashville, “who, like Paul, is a legend in the business and a veteran and tremendous asset to the company.”
Paul Gongaware, co-CEO with Meglen of the Concerts West division, will continue to play a major role in “the big tours,” Beckerman said.
AEG Live promoted the recent Stones tour in the U.S., and Beckerman dropped a small tease, suggesting the company’s relationship didn’t end with the last load-out.
Gongaware “continues to be a core piece of the puzzle on the touring side,” Beckerman said. “He is obviously instrumental in The Rolling Stones tour and that relationship – looking back as well as forward. It’s a great relationship with such an iconic band, and it was an honor to be their promoter this past year, and of course we would love to continue our involvement with The Rolling Stones going forward.”
Beckerman, despite all the nameplate changes, doesn’t feel the departure of Phillips represents as big a change as one might expect.
“AEG Live has always had a group of talented executives there. They weren’t always in the spotlight, but they were always there. They were always contributing in a very significant way to the growth and success of AEG Live,” Beckerman said. “We are going to continue being aggressive in the growth and expansion of AEG Live. We are definitely going to be investing capital and investing in people, looking at expanding our network of regional offices, looking at expanding our festival footprint, growing our digital business and continuing to be active in the touring and promotion side.
“We have a big appetite to continue the growth of AEG Live. It’s a critical part of our overall company. We’re having great success and we will continue to invest.”