Live Nation Entertainment
He Really Is The Concert Master...
When Billboard put Michael Rapino on its cover in May 2005--for a feature chronicling his battlefield promotion to the top of the world's largest promoter, bearing the headline "The Concert Master"--industry reaction ranged from anger to laughter. At 36, the low-key and tireless Canadian rocketed from relative anonymity to a withering spotlight that has only gotten brighter. Nearly seven action-packed years later, people may still be pissed off, but no one's laughing. According to Rapino, his company spent around $3 billion putting on 20,000 shows in more than 30 countries last year. That's a lot of checks cut. Everyone in the industry has an opinion on whether the business model will work, but few could argue that the genesis of that vision belongs to Rapino. Live Nation and Rapino have endured the transition from old-school swashbucklers to real 360s, the launch and subsequent shuttering of a ticketing operation, a merger with Ticketmaster and the ensuing laser scrutiny of the Department of Justice, the unforgiving challenges of Wall Street, a fear-inducing board of directors, brutal (and often undeserved) public lambasting and the arrival of one Irving Azoff (see No. 1) as chairman. The success of the model remains to be seen, but there's no question that Rapino has fundamentally changed the music business.
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