No. 2: Michael Rapino | Power 100
President/CEO, Live Nation Entertainment
550 MILLION TICKETS SOLD; ANNUAL REVENUE OF OVER $10 BILLION: Dozens of plaques, posters and other mementos promoting Live Nation clients lean against the walls of president/CEO Michael Rapino’s Beverly Hills office, but the space where they normally would hang is reserved for drawings of creatures and other scribblings by his three children ages 4, 6 and 8. “The kids came in and did that for me,” he says, sitting at a round table in a pullover and jeans. “Every time they come, they add something.”
Like that mural, revenue for the world’s largest concert-promotion company continues to grow. The third quarter of 2018 was Live Nation’s best since its formation in 2010, according to financial documents filed by the company, which is public. Revenue was up 11 percent for the quarter to $3.8 billion, and though fourth-quarter results have yet to be released, Live Nation was on track to deliver its eighth consecutive year of growth, with annual revenue exceeding $10 billion. Adjusted operating income for the first three quarters of 2018 rose 23.7 percent to $362.9 million.
The company’s success can be measured by audience. In 2018, approximately 90 million customers in 41 countries attended a show promoted by Live Nation. “We think we can get to 125 million over the next few years,” says Rapino, 53, whose current contract runs through 2022. Beyoncé and Jay-Z were responsible for 2.2 million of those tickets, while Justin Timberlake, P!nk and Bruno Mars each sold at least 1 million.
Factor in Live Nation’s ownership of Ticketmaster, and the company says it sold over 550 million tickets. Its sponsorship division partnered with over 1,000 brands, including T-Mobile, Sony and Subway, and its Artist Nation arm, which has equity in some of the largest management companies in the world -- including Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and Maverick, which represents U2 and Madonna -- has grown into a portfolio of over 140 managers and 500 artists.
Live Nation tested the synergistic potential of its businesses in 2018 when the company’s film/TV division, Live Nation Productions, invested $10 million into Warner Bros.’ A Star Is Born, with Lady Gaga. The artist’s tours are promoted by Live Nation; her manager, Bobby Campbell, is allied with Artist Nation; and she was the subject of the Live Nation Productions documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two.
Ticketmaster used customer data to target potential moviegoers, played the film’s trailer at concerts and festivals, and sent promotional email blasts. Since its October release, the movie has grossed $415 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo, and garnered four Grammy and eight Academy Award nominations.
“I think Warner Bros. will tell you that [our investment in A Star is Born] was very valuable,” says Rapino.
A native of Thunder Bay, Ontario, who keeps a framed, signed hockey jersey from friend and fellow Ontarian Wayne Gretzky in his office, Rapino attributes Live Nation’s robust recent growth to its readiness to capitalize on the escalating international demand for A-list artists (thanks in part to the border-busting influence of streaming).
“Rihanna can sell just as many tickets in Cape Town as she can in Detroit,” says Rapino. “That has helped propel our business overall, [as has] the ongoing investment in our global business.”
In 2018, Live Nation acquired Brazil’s Rock in Rio festival, Argentine concert promoter DF Entertainment and Australia’s Rhythm and Vines Festival.
The company also moved further into nonmusic-event promotion, including presenting (with Crown Publishing Group) Michelle Obama’s 21-city U.S. tour to promote her best-selling memoir, Becoming.
“If you can sell tickets and stand onstage and perform,” says Rapino, “we have the capability, the infrastructure and the desire.”