Ozzy Osbourne is singing the blues over what he believes is an unfair deal with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG)– and he’s taking his gripe to court with a class-action lawsuit filed against the live entertainment company.
In the lawsuit, Osbourne takes issue with a “tying arrangement” the complaint refers to as the “Staples Center Commitment,” in which artists who book a show at London’s O2 Arena must also agree to play the Staples Center when their tour hits Los Angeles. According to the suit, AEG owns both the O2 and Staples Center.
The former Black Sabbath yowler contends that the O2, as the only indoor arena in London capable of hosting major concerts, is a “must have” for top touring artists, and forcing artists to perform at Staples if they play O2 robs artists of the potential to play the Forum in Inglewood, which reopened in 2014 after a $100 million renovation.
Osbourne says that, when booking his upcoming No More Tours 2 road jaunt, his UK promoter Live Nation UK requested a date in February 2019 at O2, which was granted by AEG, but only on the condition that he complied with the Staples Center Commitment.
The musician’s suit contends that the arrangement violates antitrust laws, and that he’s not the only artist to be bitten by it.
” The harm to competition from the Staples Center Commitment is profound, immediate, and irreparable — and must be enjoined,” the suit reads.
According to the suit, Ozzy’s wife and manager, Sharon Osbourne, wrote to AEG executive Jay Marciano to complain about the commitment in February and was told that “this dispute is between The Forum and Staples Center and we couldn’t agree with you more — it should always be the artist’s choice. We long for the days when artists and fans came first. Kindest regards – Jay PS – The other guys started this first!”
However, the suit says, that reasoning is incorrect, because artists who want to play New York City’s Madison Square Garden are not also required to play the Forum when they hit Los Angeles, even though the Madison Square Garden Company owns the Forum.
In a statement to TheWrap, Marciano said that Osbourne’s suit is “without merit and we will vigorously fight it.”
“This suit is without merit and we will vigorously fight it. We welcome a closer look at the global live entertainment market and, specifically, our practices and the practices of our competition,” Marciano said. “AEG has always worked hard to put artists first. At the same time, we must respond to the actions of those we compete with, specifically Live Nation and Madison Square Garden. Fighting for a level playing field is fair competition at its core.”
The suit seeks an injunction against forcing the Staples Center Commitment on Osbourne and any other artists.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.