The Black Keys Split With Managers Irving Azoff and Steve Moir Following Tour Cancellation — Discussion Continues Over the Live Sector’s Outlook

black keys management split
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black keys management split
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The Black Keys, who have parted ways with managers Irving Azoff and Steve Moir. Photo Credit: Richard Abrahamson

Weeks following the cancellation of their North American arena tour, the Black Keys have officially split with managers Irving Azoff and Steve Moir.

Publications including the New York Times just recently shed light on the development, which arrived less than three years after the well-established rock duo inked with Azoff and Moir.

And that October of 2021 deal came to fruition in the wake of the Black Keys’ departure from the roster of Q Prime, where they’d long been managed by John Peets. According to its website, Q Prime continues to count as clients Eric Church, Cage the Elephant, Metallica, Muse, and a number of others.

Back to the Black Keys’ split with Azoff and Moir, the latter two individuals confirmed via a representative that they’d “‘amicably parted’” with the Ohio Players act. And while the Keys don’t appear to have publicly disclosed their exact management plans, the five-time Grammy-winning duo last month expressed a desire to rebook the nixed arena tour in more “intimate” venues.

Looking to the bigger picture, the Times and others are taking the opportunity to examine the possible commercial downturn that’s hitting certain components of the live music sphere. Besides the Black Keys’ tour-schedule shakeup, commercially prominent artists such as Jennifer Lopez and ultra-popular festivals like Coachella have reportedly grappled with slow ticket sales in 2024.

Notwithstanding Live Nation’s decidedly optimistic prediction that 2024 will mark yet another record year for its own operations, the mentioned sales slowdowns are raising questions about the trajectory of the broader live space.

As most know, live entertainment’s post-COVID surge delivered strong ticket sales for an array of events in 2022 and particularly 2023. Less widely known (and discussed), however, are the heightened operational costs that venues have been battling all the while, on top of the increased expenses associated with making festivals and concerts a reality on the promoter side.

Several artists have publicly discussed the matter, which, needless to say, is especially difficult for professionals without millions upon millions of rabid fans and ample promotional capabilities. Furthermore, a concerning number of venues are shuttering in the U.K. and elsewhere, with an abundance of festivals reportedly struggling as well.

In other words, for those artists, venues, and promoters not situated at the very top of the live sector, it’s been hard going for some time. That economic factors could be exasperating the difficulties at present – and, in another worrying sign, affecting the likes of Coachella and the Black Keys – is significant.

The points’ byproducts will be worth closely monitoring throughout 2024’s second half, as will the competition-related effects thereof. Equipped with no shortage of resources (but staring down a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit), Live Nation last year faced criticism from the National Independent Venue Association for allegedly attempting to “squeeze out independent venues.”