O2 and Live Nation/Academy music group (AMG) announce strategic alliance

O2 and Live Nation/AMG today announced a strategic alliance to launch O2 Academy venues across the UK, which are majority owned by Live Nation alongside fellow shareholders, leading UK concert promoters, Metropolis Music and SJM Concerts. The alliance will boost support for future music talent and enhance the music experience for fans visiting the venues as well as allow O2 to offer a number of benefits for its customers.

From the 1st January 2009, the 11 AMG venues will be renamed O2 Academy. O2 customers will gain priority access to tickets to all gigs at the venues, as well as other Live Nation events across the country. In total, O2 customers will gain special access to as many as 4,000 Live Nation produced shows a year in the UK up to 48 hours before they go on general sale.

“Our customers tell us that they really value having priority access to tickets at The O2, so we want to bring this benefit to even more customers,” said Ronan Dunne, Chief Executive at Telefónica O2 UK. “The O2 Academy venues are a hugely important part of the UK’s music scene and we admire their role in musical heritage. Through this partnership we are not only looking to benefit O2 customers, but to also enhance the live experience for all artists and music fans.”

Simon Lewis, President, Music Marketing Partnerships International, Live Nation added: “O2’s credentials in supporting live music are unparalleled and we are very enthusiastic about working with a partner with such integrity and understanding of the fan/artist relationship. We intend this partnership to take O2’s position in live music to new heights and allow us to market our concerts and artist-related products to millions of O2 customers and drive incremental ticket sales.”

John Northcote, CEO Academy Music Group commented: “Academy Music Group is the UK’s leading live music venue owner and operator and we have successfully built a nationwide network of premier concert venues across the country. It is very important that we continue to improve the artist and customer experience, working with like-minded partners. O2 have a dedicated programme and track record of rewarding their customers and embracing new methods of communication, as well as supporting new and emerging artists.”

As part of the relationship with Live Nation, O2 plans to reinforce the Academy venues as key outlets for grassroots music in the UK, ensuring new musical talent is recognised and supported. Over the past four years, O2 has supported up-and-coming artists with its O2 Undiscovered music programme which endeavours to open up careers in the music industry. O2 will ensure that the O2 Academy venues form a centrepoint for grassroots musical talent in their local communities as well as creating synergies with O2 It’s Your Community, a nationwide £1million community grants programme.

O2 will work closely with Live Nation/AMG to enhance the concert going experience, developing technologies like mobile ticketing which is both convenient and environmentally friendly, and utilize the venues to assess the benefits of contact-less NFC (Near Field Communication) technology in the music industry.

O2 customers may also be able to enjoy other unique benefits* that will significantly enhance their experience, including fast track entry, creating areas for O2 customers and their guests where they can relax before and after events, and opportunities to text ahead for special benefits.

O2 will also have first option to exclusive live content from O2 Academy gigs and will work closely with the artists to make this content available for download to mobile handsets. Through its Napster and MyPlay music services, O2 has a variety of platforms available for artists to distribute their music directly to fans.

The deal incorporates the following venues:

· O2 Academy Brixton

· O2 Academy Islington

· O2 Academy Birmingham

· O2 Academy Bristol

· O2 Academy Glasgow

· O2 Academy Liverpool

· O2 Academy Newcastle

· O2 Academy Oxford

· O2 Academy Sheffield

· O2 Academy Leeds

· O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire

*Dependant on venue

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