A longtime partner to Dead & Company fell victim to alleged collusion between Live Nation Entertainment and mega-manager and Oak View Group co-CEO Irving Azoff according to a report in the New York Post. Azoff, who manages Dead & Company in addition his role at OVG, reportedly orchestrated the band’s cutting of longtime VIP and experience partner 100X Hospitality in favor of Live Nation Entertainment’s newly launched Vibee business for its residency run at The Sphere in Las Vegas.

“I can understand how people could construe this as a power play and I lost,” 100X CEO Daniel Berkowitz told The Post.

Allegedly, Azoff – prominently featured in the Department of Justice lawsuit against Live Nation for reportedly turning OVG into LN’s “pimp” and “hammer” – has been pushing Dead & Co to cut ties with 100X in favor of Live Nation’s platform for some time. When talks were underway for the band to become the third to open a residency at The Sphere – owned by longtime Azoff partner and billionaire James Dolan of MSG – Azoff “made it clear to the band that they needed to hire Vibee to replace 100X Hospitality,” per the report.

Vibee was announced by Live Nation in April of 2023, with the corporation saying it “is transforming the way fans travel and connect with their favorite artists.” It was the VIP and hotel/experience partner for the first two Sphere residency runs, headlined by U2 and Phish.

Its least expensive option for the August 1st performance for Dead & Co offers a 400-level ticket, 2-night stay at The Venetian or Palazzo resort, and a souvenir lanyard for $935.39 total (if purchased by an individual – 2 or more people pay less per-person, down to $556.99 per person for groups of eight). The ritzier options with further amenities and better seats range as high as $1,796 per person for a single show, with multiple-show options also offered.

Standard Admission tickets in the 400 level for the same August 1 date through Ticketmaster are available for $135.41. A two-night stay (July 31 and August 1) at The Venetian can be booked for $545.36 as of June 6 – which implies a lanyard value of approximately $254.63 if one assumes that the bundle price is supposed to be better for consumers than the individual costs of the various components of the bundle.

Dead & Company shows at The Sphere have already seen some issues with ticket sales, as price floors were put in place to prop up resale tickets offered through the Ticketmaster system controlled by Live Nation for early dates on the run.

Prior to Azoff’s successful pitch to jettison it, 100X had worked with Dead & Company for hundreds of shows over an eight-year stretch.

“Even though everything in the Dead world feels like a family, at the end of the day it’s not the music family — it’s the music business,” Berkowitz added.

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Irving Azoff has in many ways been the central player in the music business for the last 50 years, as detailed in an exhaustive examination of his role in the current state of affairs published in the wake of the DOJ lawsuit by The American Prospect.

Currently, Azoff and Oak View Group do not appear to be directly involved in any of the DOJ case against Live Nation Entertainment, other than being a prime example of alleged collusion harming competition in the entertainment space. But the power play in orchestrating the Vibee hire for his pals at Live Nation could play into the DOJ hands, according to the American Economic Liberties Project’s Lee Hepner.

“This is exactly the type of behavior that got Live Nation in trouble in the first place,” Hepner told The Post.