WPU Music Biz Student Alan Rogozin’s Research: Irving Azoff
One does not go through a career in the music industry without at some point hearing one name, Irving Azoff.
One of the loudest voices in the industry, and quite often one of the most intimidating, he has been given nicknames ranging from Big Shorty to The Poison Dwarf. While featuring a quite small stature, it has not kept him from dominating just about anyone who had the unfortunate luck to cross him.
Irving Azoff’s career began in his late teenage years while attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by acting as a promoter and booking bands for local venues. Even prior to that in high school, he had started to work with the local band Shades Of Blue providing them with a rehearsal space and getting them gigs. After seeing the Yardbirds at seventeen though, he had been sold on being a permanent fixture in the record industry.
Over the years he has diversified far beyond that encompassing roles such as booking agent, concert promoter, movie producer, independent record label owner, merchandiser, music publisher, CEO of a record label, and the role he is most well known for – personal booking agent.
Previously heading one of the largest personal management firms in the world, Frontline Management, Irving Azoff has had his hands in the careers of some of the biggest artists in the industry including Christina Aguilera, Neil Diamond, Van Halen, and his first client who has stuck with him for for about forty years, The Eagles, among many others.
While seemingly meticulous, Irving Azoff has often been quite eccentric in nature. Unlike the careers of many other influential people in this industry, Azoff has bounced around between just about every prominent role possible. Maybe it was because he got bored, or maybe he just needed to prove that he had the ability to be successful no matter what path he decided he would be on that week.
No matter his notoriety, he still was capable or failure. If not exactly a conventional failure, his departure from MCA may qualify as a slight misstep. David Geffen, in an effort to convince MCA to acquire Geffen records, convinced Warner Music to offer Irving Azoff the “dream” label deal to create his own label, which manipulated Azoff to do just as Geffen wanted.
As of late, Azoff has started to make steps to create an alternative kind of company to the record label through a joint venture with the Madison Square Garden Company under the name Azoff MSG Entertainment.
What makes this company so interesting is its existence of four main branches, artist management, music publishing, television production and live event branding, and digital branding. While record labels currently have elements of each of these, where Irving Azoff approaches this differently is through the lens of the digital age, focusing the publishing on that of digital performance rights, digital marketing, and more.
Additionally, through the association with MSG, this company will have the opportunity to use the various television stations and venues that MSG owns to further their business.
Having so much in-house, yet applicable to the modern industry, truly sets this company apart from others like it, making it something truly special.
Personally, my view of Irving Azoff is that he has been quite successful over the years. Success in my mind is being able to do something that you love and not being held back from accomplishing your goals, and Azoff has optimized that philosophy. If Azoff wished to do something, he went out there and did it, and did a phenomenal job with anything he chose to pursue.
What has, and consistently will, set Irving Azoff apart from so many others like him is his incessant drive and determination, and he will continue to be revered because of that for many years to come.
By Alan Rogozin
WPU Masters Class of 2015