Bill Wyman’s in-depth coverage of the Congressional hearings on the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger continued today, as he live-blogged the House hearings on the merger. Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said that he doesn’t hear complaints about high ticket prices (man, those upper-management bubbles must be pretty thick!), that $50 isn’t a high price for a concert ticket (not that he’s had to pay for any in a while), and that Ticketmaster’s service fees also get kicked back to venues and artists, causing Rep. Brad Sherman to respond, “They are forcing [Ticketmaster CEO Irving] Azoff to pretend like he’s charging a lot when it’s really coming back to you”; Azoff also said early in the hearing that “if our customers don’t like [our service] they will go somewhere else.” Like what, the movies?
What will happen to the “glowing executive profile” in the darkening days of the new economy? How will writers portray those mavericks who are good at spending and making money when there’s less money to be made, there’s ? These are all worthy questions—but they’re probably best saved for another time, at least in the minds of Wall Street Journal editors. The paper’s weekend supplement features a glowing profile of Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, one that opens with him being celebrated with a glass of Jay-Z’s overpriced champagne and closes with him hinting at maybe signing a 360 deal with Kanye West. (Sure, he’s still under contract with Universal, but he does have that whole burgeoning design thing going on.) So what is Michael Rapino really like? He’s kind of like a maverick (there’s that word again!) rolled into a hockey player rolled into a recovering metalhead… who never has to worry about services fees on his tickets.
Live Nation’s reported internal battle over signing big names like Madonna and Jay-Z to all-encompassing 360 deals, and whether the concert-promotion company should keep doling out money to more aging superstars or wait and see whether or not at least one of them actually pans out, has claimed a boardroom casualty; the Wall Street Journal is reporting that chairman Michael Cohl (pictured), who was pushing for as many as 15 more such deals to be signed in the coming months, is on his way out of the company, with a severance deal to be struck as early as next week. Let’s look back over Cohl’s short, yet very expensive, history with his soon-to-be-former corporate masters:
Concert monolith Live Nation has made lots of headlines for signing artists like Madonna and Jay-Z to big-money 360 deals, where the company pays out hefty advances in exchange for a piece of every piece in the revenue pie, from concert tickets to merch to album sales. But those deals are causing trouble in the corporate offices of the company: According to the Wall Street Journal, chief executive Michael Rapino wants to hold off on signing away any more money before someone figures out whether or not these deals are a good idea in the face of a possibly slowing economy, while chairman Michael Cohl wants to sign as many as 15 more of them, including one with Shakira and her hips. And this difference in opinion has apparently boiled over into what the WSJ is referring to as a “full-blown feud,” complete with threats about terms of employment contracts!