AEG Live is the nation's second largest concert promotion and touring company and definitely seems to have it's eyes on being number one. A quick Lexis-Nexis and Proquest check shows over the past year they've been buying up venues or signing exclusive contracts to run them in many major US cities. Does this matter? It does to me and it should to you. I do think people in Seattle care about outside multi-billion dollar corporations coming into our city and trying to take over our music and arts scene. Here's why:
- All profits from these venues that were previously made and spent locally now will go out of state instead of into the local economy, the Mayor's office estimates Seattle's music community directly contributes $1.3 billion to our economy annually. As the biggest festival and venues become run by AEG, the local economic impact could be huge.
- In LA, Denver, NYC, Kansas City and other cities where AEG has taken over venues, they've seen both ticket and drink prices jump, sometimes dramatically.
- Local music acts will be kept out of these venues in increasing numbers to make room for artists that have signed deals to play AEG venues on their national tours. AEG often becomes the exclusive promoter for large touring acts.
- The relationship between bands and music fans and Seattle's venues becomes less about fostering a healthy and exciting music community and more about making a profit.
Denver multibillionaire Philip Anschutz has all his eggs in The Anschutz Company basket. Founded in 1958, the holding company's interests include a majority share of Regal Entertainment Group, which in turn controls former independent theater chains United Artists Theatre Company, Regal Cinemas, and Edwards Theatres. Publishing interests include The San Francisco Examiner and The Washington Examiner. Other holdings include Los Angeles' Staples Center and four professional soccer teams. Anschutz made his first fortune from oil on his Utah/Wyoming ranch; oil holdings include Forest Oil and Anschutz Exploration. He also founded Qwest Communications. All told, Anschutz has interests in about 100 businesses.
The conservative billionaire has agreed to sell 43 million shares of Qwest, part of a plan to liquidate more than 90% of his stake in the country's fourth-largest phone company. Through a series of forward-sale contracts, Anschutz stands to gain more than $1.3 billion in upfront cash while maintaining control of most of his Qwest shares until 2010. Anschutz is now Qwest's second-largest shareholder behind Fidelity Investments.
Anschutz also owns film and TV production companies Bristol Bay Productions (formerly Crusader Entertainment), which produces and distributes films with G or PG ratings and Walden Media. Walden Media also co-funded (with Walt Disney) religious allegory fantasy movie The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, based on C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia books.
Subsidiary Anschutz Entertainment is one of the producers of Celine Dion's Las Vegas show and is redeveloping London's beleaguered Millennium Dome. Anschutz funding is also behind the seemingly anonymous "Pass It On" billboards and commercials produced by The Foundation for a Better Life, a charity backed by his Anschutz Foundation.