We’ll leave the sad list of obits for the end, but let’s get one out of the way. Amid all of the passings of 2016, one hit especially close to home when Chip Hooper, the music chief of Paradigm Talent Agency, succumbed to cancer in March just days after winning Pollstar’s Agent Of The Year award. 

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Chip Hooper

The longtime agent for acts like Phish and Dave Matthews Band was a devoted father, an accomplished photographer and an all-around, much-loved individual whose absence is profoundly felt. 

Last year had plenty of events that were lost in the din of presidential campaign politics and terrorism. Even that intersected, with several horrific events having impact on the live event industry, such as the shooting deaths of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.; the deaths of 86 people in a truck attack at the Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France; or the loss of 36 souls at the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, Calif.

There was also the deadly shooting at New York’s Irving Plaza during a T.I. performance that led to concerns about how guns got into the venue. Roland “Troy Ave” Collins was shot and injured and his bodyguard was killed in the green room by an unidentified third party; Troy Ave was charged with attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

The rapper ended the year by getting shot and injured on Christmas Day.

There was the shooting death of “The Voice” star Christina Grimmie by an obsessed fan at The Plaza Live in Orlando during a meet-and-greet.

Grimmie's family filed suit Dec. 21 against AEG Live and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Plaza Foundation, which owns the venue, accusing them of failing to take adequate security measures.

The year also saw the dramatic fall of SFX, with CEO Robert Sillerman stepping down as stock in the company fell from $13 to one cent a share and as seven EDM festivals, including two by SFX, were canceled as many wondered if the EDM bubble was bursting.

Still, the company rose from the ashes with a new name, LiveStyle, and a new leader, Randy Phillips, but it’s too early to tell what 2017 will bring.


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Photo: CaraLewis.net

Cara Lewis

Live Nation, on the other hand, had quarterly reports that beat the street, even if the company is still inching toward profitability.

Oak View Group, the company launched by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff that originally seemed so mysterious, became less so with the unveiling of its Arena Alliance with 22 charter members.

The alliance, which is promising to maximize profitability for its arena members, is run by Peter Luukko, former head of Comcast-Spectacor, president of the Philadelphia Flyers and chief of facility management group Global Spectrum (now Spectra).

Meanwhile, the alliance may have its own trade magazine of sorts because OVG ended the year buying Venues Today, luring away longtime Billboard touring editor Ray Waddell to anchor it.

As always, there were several major employment shifts in the industry.

Cara Lewis, who seemingly handles the bookings for pretty much every urban music artist in the universe, drew attention after exiting CAA to hang her own shingle at Cara Lewis Group with much of her roster intact.

Another seismic shift came from unassuming veteran Bobby Cudd who became an agent for Billions Corp., causing a flood of hits on PollstarPro.com.

Cudd had been with the same agency for decades, be it called Monterey Peninsula Artists or Paradigm.

Meanwhile, Paul Tollett fulfilled a longtime dream when his company, Goldenvoice, wrote big-enough checks to bring Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Roger Waters, Neil Young, and The Who to Indio, Calif., for Desert Trip.

As for the artists, 2016 saw the farewell tour of The Tragically Hip and the exits of Rush and AC/DC, the latter touring with Axl Rose rather than Brian Johnson as lead vocalist.

The year also saw the reunion of much of the original lineup of Guns N’ Roses as well as the emergence of career acts like Chris Stapleton.

Also, Broadway hit “Hamilton” became the new face of scalping, inspiring federal legislation to fight the bots that can invade an onsale. Over in Las Vegas, Madison Square Garden announced it would add to the city’s live performance value with an arena that will likely compete with AEG’s T-Mobile Arena.


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Photo: Courtesy of Desert Trip

Desert Trip Drone - A mass of about 75,000 people assembles to witness some of the largest rock acts in history perform on one stage at Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif., Oct. 8. The aerial image was taken by a drone.

And speaking of AEG, the company rolled up one of the last major independents in Bowery Presents.

After years on the run, former promoter Jack Utsick was sentenced to more than 18 years in federal prison for a case that involved $200 million and 3,000 investors, many accusing him of running a Ponzi scheme.

Finally, here is a partial list of some who passed away in 2016: George Michael, David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard, Juan Gabriel, Leonard Cohen, Natalie Cole, and Leon Russell.

The list also includes Lemmy Kilmister, Paul Kantner, Sharon Jones, and Joey Feek. There is also Maurice White, George Martin, and Garry Shandling. Jerry Heller, the agent who, whether it was appreciated or not, had a significant impact on the world of hip-hop, also passed away, as did David Gest whose caricature and marriage to Liza Minnelli amused the tabloid press but as a businessman produced the last reunion show for The Jacksons.

Then there was Lou Pearlman, who brought together Backstreet Boys and *Nsync but will also be remembered for running one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history.