The on-going battle between mega-promoter Michael Cohl and Live Nation Entertainment now threatens to engulf one of the concert industry’s all-time biggest acts, the Rolling Stones.
Late last year, Live Nation sued Cohl, its former chairman, for $5.35 million for allegedly breaching his 2008 exit contract. Terms of that arrangement called for Cohl to sign a limited non-compete agreement that reined him into only promoting concerts for certain acts with whom he has deep ties, such as the Stones, Barbra Streisand, Pink Floyd and Genesis.
In addition, to retain the rights to those tours, Cohl reportedly was supposed to pay Live Nation $9 million over two years, including the payment of $5.35 million which he has not yet paid.
Live Nation considers this a breach of the contract, but in a countersuit filed by Cohl earlier this month, which was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, he claims that Live Nation first breached the agreement by allegedly trying to undermine his attempts to promote an upcoming Rolling Stones tour. The band is slated to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, and while the band has not announced a new tour, one appears to be in the works, according to Cohl’s countersuit.
The Rolling Stones have produced some of the biggest, highest-grossing tours of all-time, and a 50th anniversary tour, which has a chance to be the band’s last, has the potential to set new tour earnings records. The band last toured in 2007, and Cohl has promoted each of the band’s tours since the late 1980s.
“Live Nation has attempted to interfere with and destroy Cohl’s potential to procure the promotion rights to the Rolling Stones’ future tours. Upon information and belief, Live Nation communicated to representatives of the Rolling Stones that Cohl and Live Nation were in a dispute,” the countersuit states. This led the Stones to relay to Cohl that the band “perceived a ‘spat’ developing between Cohl and Live Nation and that they did not want to get dragged into the middle” of such a disagreement. Cohl also claims he already has met with Stones principals Mick Jagger and Keith Richards about a new tour.
Cohl claims that Live Nation is essentially using its industry might to muscle in and force Cohl to work with the company on the tour, or to force him to reveal certain negotiations with the band which Live Nation could then allegedly use against him to undercut or out bid him for the tour. Various independent promoters have complained that Live Nation, since completing its merger with Ticketmaster, could allegedly use such tactics to hurt their businesses.
“Furthermore, upon information and belief, Live Nation has denigrated Cohl to representatives of the Rolling Stones in an additional attempt to damage the ability of Cohl to once again obtain the tour promotional rights. In doing so, Live Nation has violated both the terms and the spirit of the Letter Agreement,” the countersuit added.
Cohl’s countersuit did not specify how much he was seeking in damages, but he is seeking money he believes he would have made in profits from a Stones tour, among other compensation.