In a rare television interview this morning with CSNBC's Julia Boorstin, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino says LN is having a "strong summer" and hopes the proposed merger with Ticketmaster will be consummated by the end of the year.

Rapino named U2, Madonna, Coldplay, Jonas Brothers and Kid Rock as healthy sellers this summer. "Thankfully we have great artists out there and our business... from now until the end of the year looks really strong," Rapino said.

Citing LN's numerous price promotions at the amphitheaters, Boorstin asked Rapino if lower prices meant lower profit margins. "In our business 40% of our tickets are unsold, so our job at the end of the day is to fill the building, we want every seat full when the artist takes the stage," Rapino said. "One of the great motives right now in this economy is price points and ticket prices are expensive."

When pressed on the margin issue, Rapino said Live Nation has sold "over half a million tickets in the last four or five weeks. You're selling them at a lower margin, but [that's] incremental margin for us. We expect about a 5% overall increase in ticket sales."

Merchandise and concessions spending are also up for Live Nation, according to Rapino. "At the end of [last] year the theory was people wouldn't buy concert tickets and if they did, they wouldn't spend when they got [to the show]," he said. "They're buying concert tickets as strong as they were last year and our per-heads are up seven to eight per cent."

Regarding the proposed merger, Rapino said it was too early in the process to talk about possible concessions by either firm that would help make it happen. "We think we have a strong case for the efficiencies," he said. "The business really is about selling concert tickets and it's become an e-commerce business."

A recent fan survey by Live Nation indicated that 60% of fans say they would have gone to a show if they had known about it. "We as an industry need to do a better job of increasing the awareness of the show, decreasing the ticket price, and making it a better experience online to buy tickets," Rapino said. "We think by using Ticketmaster's platform and our concert platform, we can become the Zappos or Amazon of the concert business, versus what we are today."