Billboard Power 100: U2 & Paul McGuinness

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Power Players

No. 27
U2 & Paul McGuinness

Rock Band; Managing Director, Principal Manager
Twitter: @u2com
The Band And The Man On A Mission...

If any one figure sums up the power of U2 in the music business today it would be this number: $736,421,586. Or maybe this one: 7,272,046. Those are the total gross and ticket sales, respectively, for U2's 360° tour, according to Billboard Boxscore, and they both represent the pinnacle of achievement for the business of touring. In hitting those staggering numbers, U2 shattered the previous all-time marks set by the Rolling Stones for their Bigger Bang tour that wrapped in 2007. For years many fans and music pros had called the Stones the biggest band in the world. Logic would dictate that U2 can now assume that mantle. And unlike most other decades-old bands, U2 releases music that's not only relevant but also sells. No Line on the Horizon (2009) debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 1.2 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. U2's combination of touring supremacy and musical relevance puts it far ahead of the pack in the business of music.

What Paul McGuinness has accomplished as the band's only manager says plenty. As a music-biz rookie, McGuinness took four unknown Dublin kids of dubious musicianship to global superstardom, which suggests he possesses intangible persuasive skills and uncanny natural instincts. "Paul is a brilliant strategist, a skilled negotiator on behalf of his clients and has tremendous knowledge of every facet of our business," says Live Nation Entertainment global touring chairman Arthur Fogel (see No. 20), who adds that McGuinness "conducts himself with grace and honor." Perhaps the latter traits are the true testament to McGuinness' real power. His opinion matters because people believe it comes from the right place. When McGuinness stole the show at the 2008 MIDEM conference by passionately making his case that Internet service providers should be a stronger force in fighting piracy, the world listened. Since then, the focus of the issue has indisputably shifted significantly from those who pirate music to the ISPs that allow it to occur.

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