Michael Rapino: The 2014 Billboard Power 100
NO. 4

Michael Rapino

CEO, Live Nation Entertainment

People talk about Big Data. He makes it pay off: With concert attendance up 27% to 55 million, Live Nation Entertainment’s stock price more than doubled, adding $2 billion to its market cap

“We had an epic, record year for ticket sales, and that in itself is the big overall takeaway picture of 2013,” Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino says. “Every country, every genre of music, every size of venue had strong year-over-year growth, which testifies to consumer demand and the supply of great artists.”

That growth in concert attendance also speaks to another area where Live Nation and its Ticketmaster operation are on the leading edge: digital and mobile marketing. By Rapino’s mandate, the company has doubled down on gathering and analyzing consumer data, an opportunity afforded by the massive scale of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, and 2013 was the year where digital and mobile marketing moved the needle in generating consumer awareness and stimulating ticket sales. Sales on mobile devices grew from 6% to 10% in 2013.

“To be a great concert marketer, we are shifting our focus from traditional media to online and mobile as direct ways to reach consumers,” Rapino says, adding that social engagement empowers fans and artists. “When you have Rihanna with 100 million followers on Twitter and Facebook, she has the media and the relationship with fans, so she becomes the best channel to advertise and talk about the tour.”

While the company has evolved significantly during his 12-year tenure, the overall vision remains fundamentally the same, and it’s very much Rapino’s vision. In simplistic terms, Live Nation’s business model is based on utilizing the relatively low-margin concert business as the “flywheel,” as he puts it, to drive lucrative ancillary revenue like concessions, merchandising, e-commerce, ticketing and sponsorships.

Following the exit of Irving Azoff (No. 7), the company made a huge statement in bringing U2 and Madonna manager Guy Oseary into the Artist Nation fold. Rapino himself now oversees that division, which manages more than 230 artists. “Following Irving’s departure, there may have been some questions as to our ability to renew, and we’re very proud that we renewed 15 of our management companies to long-term deals,” Rapino says.

Ticketmaster was an established behemoth when it merged with Live Nation, but was already challenged by the most competitive environment it had faced since rising to the top two decades earlier. Despite a wealth of smart solutions seeking to steal market share, Ticketmaster is dominating both market share and innovation, powered by 500 engineers.