Pop2Life created The Lodge during the CMAs in Nashville (June 7-10).
Azoff MSG Entertainment has announced its first major acquisition as well as its biggest hire to date.
The $100-million entertainment venture between Front Line Management founder and former Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff and Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan has purchased a 50-percent stake in New York-based experiential marketing and music agency Pop2Life (P2L)—the agency that created the world’s largest vinyl record for the reopening of the Forum in Inglewood, Calif.
And on Monday, the Knicks announced the hiring of Hall of Fame Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson as the new president of basketball operations. MSG owns the Knicks, who first drafted Jackson, age 68, to the NBA in 1967. Jackson was a member of the title-winning 1970 and 1973 teams.
Jackson will be in charge of all basketball decisions, and he will work alongside Steve Mills, who rejoined the Knicks last Fall and will remain on as general manager. Jackson plans to relocate to New York from Southern California.
The hiring of Jackson frees Dolan from overseeing day-to-day operations of the basketball team, which has earned him some criticism in the media for the team’s mediocre performance. From 2000-2009, the team made the playoffs only twice, although their fortunes have turned around in recent years. Last season, the team won their division and beat Boston in the first round of the playoffs, before being eliminated by Indiana.
“This organization has suffered by things that I think have been created by the press, by lack of continuity and by lack of solidarity,” said Jackson during the press conference yesterday announcing his hiring. “So there are going to be some closed walls with the media and I think we have to accept that. But we’re going to try and foster a positive atmosphere because I think we need that, the team needs it and the fans need that.”
Dolan plans to continue developing AMSGE into a full-service event and content company and the addition of Pop2Life adds a promotions and event partner with connections in television and live music.
“Most concerts are promoted the same way and it’s a very traditional model,” Pop2Life Founder Eric Murphy explained to Venues Today. “This partnership creates the opportunity for us to appeal to a new generation of kids who are looking for a larger experience.”
That usually means connecting popular music and television brands. During the CMA Music Festival in Nashville last June, Pop2Life created The Lodge, a 2,400-sq.-ft. pop-up performance space with appearances by Property Brothers stars Jonathan Scott and Drew Scott and musical performances by a dozen acts including Kip Moore and the Goo Goo Dolls.
The firm also assisted with the launch of Luke Bryan’s platinum “Crash My Party” album, which was tied in with a co-promotion for the Season 3 launch of AMC’s “Hell on Wheels” kickoff in Nashville. Pop2Life also participated in the launch of Michael Buble’s album “To Be Loved” at the Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas, and built several press events for the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas.
Murphy said the acquisition allows him to venture into the festival category. On Sept. 20, Murphy will produce the first Food Network in Concert Experience at Ravinia in Highland Park, Ill., just outside of Chicago. The day-long event will combine music by headliners like John Mayer and familiar Food Network personalities like Anne Burrell, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Geoffrey Zakarian.
“It’s a nontraditional venue and we’re creating an entire day built around music and food,” said Murphy. “It’s not like you’re going to a food event where there just happens to be music – we’re integrating the two across the entire experience.”
Interviewed for this article: Phil Jackson, (212) 465-6741; Eric Murphy, (646) 397-0878