Irving Azoff has resigned as chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, the country’s largest concert promoter and one of the biggest powers in the music industry, the company announced on Monday.
Azoff (left with Judd Apatow) had been chairman since 2011, when he was tapped to lead the new music behemoth formed by the merger of promoter Live Nation and ticketseller Ticketmaster. His contract was not up until 2014, the same year as CEO Michael Rapino. Rapino recently signed a new five-year extension.
In an exclusive interview with TheWrap on Monday, Azoff said he'd tired of the rigors of running a public company and wanted to go back to being an entrepreneur.
“Life at a public company ain’t for me,” Azoff said. "You can’t be an entrepreneur and work in a public company anymore… I can’t get through the day with 600 emails and 250 phone calls and feel good about it anymore. There’s a zillion meetings that came off my schedule today that were not creating any revenue, that I did because we’re a public company.”
The former head of MCA Records, Azoff has been a prominent figure in the music industry for decades, particularly through managing and promoting a massive roster of artists. He remains the manager of prominent musical acts, such as The Eagles and Christina Aguilera.
"After successfully overseeing the integration of Live Nation and Ticketmaster over the past two years, my job here is done," Azoff said in a statement. "We put together the leading company across concert promotion, ticketing, sponsorship and artist management and delivered the great results promised by the merger."
"I'm looking forward to returning to the entrepreneurial world and continuing to work with all my friends and colleagues at Live Nation," he added.
In addition to stepping down as chairman, Azoff departs Live Nation's board of directors and will leave his post as CEO of Front Line Management Group, Live Nation's artist management unit. Azoff founded Front Line in 2004 and gradually sold off parts of it to investors like MSG and Live Nation. Live Nation brought Front Line under its corporate umbrella at the same time Azoff was brought in to run it.
It remains unclear how much Azoff would have to pay to reclaim his management company.
In conjunction with his departure, Azoff sold 1.7 million shares of the company to Liberty Media Corporation, which now owns 26.4 percent of Live Nation. He is poised to join the board of Liberty, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"I want to thank Irving for his leadership since the merger. While he has played a key role in setting Live Nation on a path for success, we understand his entrepreneurial desires," Greg Maffei, lead external director for Live Nation Entertainment's board of directors, and President and CEO of Liberty Media, said in a statement.