Live Nation taking over Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge?
It’s the latest drama that is AEG and Live Nation’s battle to control the concert industry in NYC. Bowery Presents co-founder John Moore confirms to BrooklynVegan that Bowery Presents/AEG is parting ways with Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge. We meanwhile hear from a very good source that Live Nation will probably be taking over booking of the Lower East Side mainstays!
Though Bowery Presents continued to get bigger and bigger while opening new venues and expanding to other cities, Bowery and Merc were practically synonymous with NYC-based concert promoters Bowery Presents, but the business relationship between those two clubs and Bowery Presents was never straightforward. News first broke that AEG Live was acquiring Bowery Presents back in April 2016. Since then, Bowery/AEG has continued to book those venues, but those venues were not actually part of the sale and they never switched to AEG’s AXS ticketing system, or to Live Nation owned Ticketmaster. They use Ticketfly instead (not for long though?). Bowery Presents co-founder Michael Swier is and was always the owner of Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge (and Teragram Ballroom in LA), and at a minimum this is just him possibly replacing Bowery Presents (AEG) with Live Nation. Staff at those venues work for him, including Bowery Ballroom talent buyer Johnny Beach and Mercury Lounge talent buyer Michelle Landry (neither could be reached for comment).
Live Nation’s current Manhattan competition — if you want to call it that — to Bowery Ballroom, size-wise, is Gramercy Theatre, but we also recently heard a rumor that Gramercy has been looking for new owners. Live Nation could in theory continue to control both Gramercy and Bowery at the same time, but maybe Bowery will replace Gramercy in their arsenal which also includes similarly sized Warsaw in Brooklyn, another venue they recently gained complete control of.
Meanwhile, Bowery Presents/AEG still have Rough Trade and Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, though the smallest venue they’ll control in Manhattan will be Webster Hall that they are about to renovate before reopening under their own ownership (in partnership with Barclays Center). Bowery Presents/AEG also still have bigger venues Terminal 5, Playstation Theatre, and the new Brooklyn Steel. Live Nation also control Irving Plaza.
This story is developing….