All Change at the Empire

Popular music venue gets a new name

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Shepherd’s Bush’s best-known music venue is to be re-named in the new year.

The Empire on Shepherd’s Bush Green will be known as the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire from 1 January 2009. 

The new name comes as part of a £22.5million, five year alliance between the venue's owners, Academy Music Group (AMG), and the O2 mobile phone operator.

The venue, on the western side of the Green, used to be known as the BBC Television Theatre and was where programmes such as Basil Brush, Crackerjack and the Generation Game were recorded. It became the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 1994 and since then has hosted acts such as Iron Maiden, Kylie Minogue, David Bowie and Elton John.

Under the new sponsorship deal, all 11 Academy venues in the UK will be re-branded, including the Brixton Academy and the Islington Academy. From January, they will be known as the O2 Academy Brixton and the O2 Academy Islington.

O2, which is part of Telefónica Europe, says it plans to reinforce the Academy venues as key outlets for grassroots music in the UK and to ensure new musical talent is recognised and supported. 

"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,” said Telefónica O2 UK’s Chief Executive, Ronan Dunne.

As part of the change, O2 customers will get priority access to tickets, fast track entry, and opportunities to text ahead for special benefits.

O2 also says it will have first option on live content from O2 Academy gigs and says it 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.

O2 already has the naming rights to The O2, formerly the Millennium Dome, in a £36m sponsorship deal.

7 November 2008