In this year’s Billboard Power 100, an index of the most powerful people in the music industry, Irving Azoff is at the top. Azoff is chairman of Live Nation Entertainment (which also owns Ticketmaster), Chairman and CEO of Front Line Management, and CEO of SME Entertainment Group, which meeting professionals will recognize as a provider of entertainment and keynote speakers to the corporate events industry.
Why does this matter to you? Partly it’s because of something an entertainment attorney told Billboard in the Power 100 article: “Ultimately the artists are in control. So whoever most influences the artist has the power.”
By sharing its CEO with Front Line Management, which manages some 250 acts including Christina Aguilera, David Archuleta, Jewel, Jimmy Buffett, and the Eagles, SME has a different level of access to major talent than you can find at a typical speakers bureau. “And that access can benefit corporate clients by providing them the resources of the world’s largest entertainment company,” says Eddie Lin, manager, business development, at the rebranded SME Entertainment Group, a Live Nation Company.
Singer/songwriter Jewel recently brought down the house when she closed the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners 2012 Annual Conference. Her appearance was arranged by SME Entertainment.
SME also has a strategic partnership with House of Blues, another Live Nation company, with locations in 13 U.S. cities. House of Blues has become known as much as a corporate event venue as a live music venue, and according to Lin, clients working with both House of Blues and SME benefit from “our good relationships. Being in the same family, we can provide the client a lot of flexibility and best possible production experience.”
This partnership extends to 27 other Live Nation–owned special event venues across the country, from the Gramercy Theatre in New York, to The Fillmore in San Francisco, to White River State Park in Indianapolis.
What is now SME Entertainment Group began as Sports Marketing & Entertainment, a spinoff of Sports Management Group, where Corey Shapoff was working as an agent when he saw the potential for a firm that could provide corporate America access to prominent musical acts, comedians, and keynote speakers for their events. He founded SME in 1992 and since then the company has orchestrated high-profile events for clients such as Mercedes-Benz, Starbucks, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, and Hewlett-Packard. Find more at company’s new Web site.