By Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen
Live Nation has had a whirlwind summer highlighted by Ticketmaster leaking a memo that it did not believe that Live Nation would renew its contract with the ticketing agency. And this week at a Goldman Sachs-sponsored conference in New York, Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino reported that indeed, the company was planning on starting its own ticketing and secondary ticketing companies when its contract with Ticketmaster is up at the end of 2008; the House of Blues contract ends the following year; Live Nation acquired the company this year.
There was also a flurry of internal action with the addition of two new board members; the completed purchase of Michael Cohl’s Concert Productions International and his overly abundant purchase of additional company stock; CFO Alan Ridgeway promoted to CEO of International Music, returning home to England; the departure of Bruce Eskowitz, former CEO of North American Music; the reorganization of its Canadian and New York operations; and the creation of a Latin Music division, with offices in Mexico and Brazil, which underscores its focus on the global market. In England, Live Nation fired UK Music managing director Stuart Galbraith when they learned he was possibly negotiating with main competitor AEG.
On the live front, Live Nation also cut back on its amphitheater shows this summer, dropping shows that did less than 7,500 capacity in the past and cutting back on its concessions to 50 from more than 200. Live Nation had a few national tours on the road, including the Police, Linkin Park, Ozzfest, and the conclusion of the Rolling Stones world tour–The Big Bang, affectionately known as “The Big Bank” tour. It finally confirmed the upcoming Van Halen reunion tour with David Lee Roth but minus Michael Anthony who is being replaced by Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie’s son. Maroon 5 is another national tour scheduled for the fall. There is speculation about negotiations with Madonna for an all encompassing music deal — recording, touring, merchandise, etc.
Live Nation also cares about its fans. The concert giant recently released new widget software powered by LiveNation.com, which will enable fans to search and buy concerts tickets more easily. And when they start their own ticketing company, they will be securing data such as email addresses and demographic data that will help them personalize Live Nation to its consumers.