When Michael Cohl recently resigned from Live Nation and its board of directors to become a consultant, internal changes were imminent. Now, three veteran record executives with the company – Bob Ezrin, Bob Cahill and Bill Hein – were recently let go, all of whom Cohl hired. Ezrin was going to head the record company initiative while Hein was the general manager. But Live Nation never really was going to have a record label in the traditional sense. They were just going to work with albums by artists they signed to 360-type deals, such as Madonna, Jay-Z, Shakira and Nickelback.
Although the recording aspects of the Live Nation Artists deals are still at least 18-24 months away, and how they would release the music has never been defined, the New York Post has reported that Live Nation may outsource the distribution of albums to one or more music labels, maybe even back to the artist’s original label. The issue is coming to a head a few weeks after Live Nation’s chief executive officer Michael Rapino told the Wall Street Journal they “will outsource it all. We will do nothing in house. We are not in the record-business infrastructure.”
Live Nation was possibly going to follow Cohl’s modus operandi where he gave Best Buy the exclusive on Rolling Stone concert videos from recent tour. The model has subsequently worked with The Eagles, Journey and Garth Brooks with different retailers though Cohl was not involved. Since Live Nation will not be in the record aspect of its business for almost two years, there is no need for them to make a definitive public policy at this date.
Finally, one source told the Post that Cohl and Rapino are moving closer to a complete separation agreement: “A source said Cohl could potentially take The Rolling Stones and a number of other acts with him to create a new business. Another source suggested that a likely scenario would involve the Cohl entity continuing to work through Live Nation.”
A Live Nation spokesperson told TicketNews that Cohl still has eight years left on his non-compete and downplayed the recent reports.