Independent live music in New York City may be entering its final days. Billboard is reporting that global promoter AEG Live has reached the final stages of acquiring Bowery Presents, a deal that has been speculated on for the last few years.
Founded in 1993, Bowery has worked diligently with artists at all levels to build relationships and help musicians climb the capacity ranks. They’d often see bands rise in their careers from the 250-capacity Mercury Lounge or Rough Trade all the way up to the 3,000-capacity Terminal 5, with Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg in between; the company owns, operates, or has exclusivity deals in place with each of those live music hubs. They also present shows at Brooklyn Bowl, Port Chester’s Capitol Theater, and the city’s two major arenas, Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center.
What’s more, Bowery is not localized to just to NYC. The promoter produces shows throughout Boston, Philadelphia, Albany, and Portland, ME, as well as in Atlanta, Birmingham, and New Orleans through its Bowery South division. Once the acquisition goes through, all of these will fall under the purview of AEG. Elsewhere, AEG also owns Coachella, FYF, Firefly, and Hangout Music Fest through Goldenvoice, which they purchased in 2001.
The sale essentially leaves the New York live music scene in a joint monopoly between AEG and Live Nation. The latter already owns or operates Irving Plaza, Gramercy Theatre, Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, and even the Saratoga Performing Arts Center upstate. Earlier this year, AEG entered the local festival scene with the launch of Panorama, a move that forced another local independent, Governors Ball producers Founders Entertainment, to sell to Live Nation.
With the final deal between AEG and Bowery expected to be announced next week, that’s two major independents bought out of the city in just a few months’ time. Live Nation and AEG have been embroiled in a territory war for years, scooping up venues, promoters, and festivals across the country. It looks like New York City is the latest battle ground to be razed.