News May 23, 2016

Live Nation could take over The Palais tomorrow

Former Editor
Live Nation could take over The Palais tomorrow

A decision is being made tomorrow on whether the lease for one of Melbourne’s most iconic entertainment venues will be given to promoter giant Live Nation.

Port Phillip Council will decide between the US-based multinational music company or Sydney-based Playbill Venue Management, which operates Hordern Pavilion and the Royal Hall of Industries, both at Moore Park.

The possibility of Live Nation taking on The Palais’ operation has been blasted by members of the music industry. Certain figures believe it could magnify the issue of price wars among promoters and establish a monopoly of the local industry.

Speaking to The Age, Michael Chugg has said promoters often book the venue before securing an act; if Live Nation ran the venue, local promoters would be sharing confidential information with their competitor. 

“When you book a venue for a concert they want to know who the act is. So you will be in a situation where you are telling a rival who the act is before that act is booked,” he said. “And that rival will be running the venue.”

Neil Croker, CEO and booker of The Palais Theatre, has overseen the venue since 2007, hosting over 100 performances a year including Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and John Farnham. Croker took the venue from hosting 30 shows on average a year in 2007 to 110 in 2015. It was named one of the Top 25 highest-grossing concert venues in the world in 2013. 

Croker’s Palais Theatre Management Company will finish up as the venue’s operator in December.

Chugg said of Croker’s axing: “It’s beyond me what the council have done – why they have [got rid of] the bloke who took it on when it was a broken down shithole and built it back up into a prestigious venue.”

Next month, The Palais will close for 19 days, from June 14 to July 8, for redevelopment to take place. The $20 million restoration of the 90-year-old building, as part of a joint project of the Labor Government and City of Port Phillip, will be completed in early 2017, when the new long-term lease is expected to start.

Live Nation purchased Australian tour promoter Michael Coppel’s Michael Coppel Presents (MCP) four years ago. Copell was made President and CEO of Live Nation Australasia when it launched in April 2012.

In February Live Nation Australasia entered a partnership with recently launched touring company Unify Presents. The pair are co-presenting tours by Bring Me The Horizon, Slipknot, Pierce The Veil, Northlane, The Amity Affliction and Enter Shikari. None of the aforementioned acts will play The Palais on their respective tours.

TMN has reached out to Live Nation for comment, however COO Roger Field is currently overseas at a conference.

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