Published On: Wed, Jun 11th, 2014

Azoff MSG Entertainment Picks Up 50% Of Levity Entertainment

Irving Azoff And Billboard's Editorial Director Bill Werde In conversation At The 2012 Billboard Touring Conference

 

Azoff MSG Entertainment, which is a joint venture between Azoff Music Management and the Madison Square Garden Company, is all set to announce later today it is acquiring a 50 percent equity ownership interest in the comedy management company Levity Entertainment Group.

Levity Entertainment derives form the merger in 2009 of Levity Management and Triage Entertainment. The Los Angeles based company deploys a platform of live comedy clubs, and has a unit for producing comedy and reality television shows. Levity also manages comedy talent and supplies a number of online digital services as well. In case the reader had not noticed, as this writer failed to do for some time, the exceedingly dry company name “Levity” stands for comedy….

Irving Azoff, CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, said, “We are thrilled to have Levity Entertainment Group join the Azoff MSG Entertainment family, ” adding, “Robert Hartmann, Stu Schreiberg, Norm Aladjem, and Judi Brown-Marmel have built a unique ecosystem to identify talent and provide them with career and content opportunities that extend across multiple distribution platforms worldwide.”

Nine months ago, in September of 2013 the legendary music manager Irving Azoff  joined forces with Madison Square Garden, which is under the leadership of an old buddy of his James Dolan, to create Azoff MSG Entertainment as a new music, media and entertainment company.

The idea was to combine the power and influence of the Madison Square Garden Company and Azoff Music Management. The Garden chipped in US$125 million in cash for its 50% share of the joint venture, and is providing up to US$50 million in revolving credit lines as well.

Since then the venture has already built interests in music management and large venue events, and is partnering with digital technology company ACTV8 and the United Talent Agency to develop a live-music discovery show that will go under the title of “Streets of the City.”

The joint venture of course enjoys access to a number of premiere concert venues, including not only Madison Square Garden itself, but also the equally iconic Radio City Music Hall in New York and the Forum in Inglewood, California, which is about to undergo a major renovation.

Just in March, 2014 Azoff MSG Entertainment picked up a 50% interest in the thriving Pop2Life music marketing agency, with offices in New York, Los Angeles and Florida, that focuses on the integration of social media and mobile marketing of events.

Then in April, 2014 Azoff also bought a 50% interest in Burns Entertainment, which is based in an exurb of Chicago, and which markets the top celebrities to the corporate advertising market, which is a huge business.

Now with this new acquisition today, the firm is broadening its expertise by adding interests in comedy and clubs to the roster as well.

Levity Entertainment is amongst the biggest providers of live comedy in the United States. The group supplies cruise lines, tours, festivals, and also has its own network of comedy venues across the nation.

On the comedy talent management side Levity Entertainment represents nearly 70 comedians and comediennes. These include Jeff Dunham, winner of the Top Comedy Tour at the Billboard Touring Awards three years running, Jenny McCarthy, and Aaron McGruder.

In addition, Levity Entertainment has produced over 1, 000 hours of original television programming. The company’s digital group, these days increasingly key to successful marketing, provides social media services to individuals and brands. It also owns the Sideshow Network, a comedy and lifestyle podcast aggregator presently with more than 5 million downloads per month.

Robert Hartmann, the CEO of levity Entertainment said “The partnership with Azoff MSG Entertainment brings us a wealth of resources and relationships that will further allow us to grow our clients’ careers and our overall business, ” adding “There is only one Irving – his knowledge and experience is unprecedented. I also happen to think he has a promising future as a stand-up.”

It seems all of Azoff MSG Entertainment’s recent acquisitions have been of 50% interests, leaving the existing teams of entrepreneurs fully incentivised to continue to out-perform. So it is clearly a formula designed so that everybody can do well. In fact it is also the formula behind Azoff MSG Entertainment itself for that matter, with Irving Azoff holding 50% of the joint venture, and with Madison Square Gardens providing the corporate clout and necessary financing.

 

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