UK: The new arrangement will see the 11 AMG venues assume the name 'O2 Academy', writes David Davies. According to Telef_nica O2, Live Nation and Academy Music Group (AMG), the new alliance will "boost support for future music talent and enhance the music experience for fans visiting the venues as well as allow O2 to offer a number of benefits for its customers".
The AMG venues will be renamed with effect from January 1st, while O2 customers will gain priority access to tickets to all gigs at the venues, as well as other Live Nation events in the UK.
It is estimated that O2 customers will gain special access to as many as 4,000 Live Nation-produced shows a year in the UK up to 48 hours before they go on general sale.
O2 says that it will also seek to reinforce the Academy venues as key outlets for 'grassroots' music in the UK. The communications giant will also work with Live Nation/AMG with a view to implementing new technologies such as mobile ticketing.
The decision by AMG to participate in the alliance may come as a surprise to some observers given the group's extensive efforts during recent years to establish new own-branded venues, most recently in the form of the Leeds Academy, which opened in October with a performance by local heroes Kaiser Chiefs and was the subject of a story on last week's PSN-e (read here). AMG CEO John Northcote, however, puts the move in the context of continuing efforts to enhance the overall gig-going experience.
"Academy Music Group is the UK's leading live music venue owner and operator, and we have successfully built a nationwide network of premier concert venues across the country," he said. "It is very important that we continue to improve the artist and customer experience, working with like-minded partners. O2 have a dedicated programme and track record of rewarding their customers and embracing new methods of communication, as well as supporting new and emerging artists."
For O2, meanwhile, the renaming of the AMG venues represents a major escalation of its presence in the live music market, following the successful opening of The O2 Arena in London and O2 World in Berlin (pictured) during 2007 and '08, respectively, and the rebranding of the former Sazka Arena as O2 Arena (Prague).
An O2 spokesperson tells PSN-e: "Live music is important to O2 because we know it's important to our customers. We've had a huge amount of success with The O2 in London because it has allowed us to offer a real and tangible benefit to our customers - priority access to tickets. A quarter of a million customers in the UK have taken advantage of this benefit. We've taken the learnings from The O2 to create great customer experiences in Berlin, Prague and Dublin, and will be further enhancing the priority ticketing benefit in the UK through our new partnership with Live Nation and the Academy Music Group."