After Briefly Forfeiting Salary, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino Earned $1.7M Last Year

Courtesy of Live Nation Entertainment

Michael Rapino

After Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino announced he was reducing his salary to $0 in April 2020 as part of a $500 million cost reduction plan, he quietly started paying himself again two months later, according to filings with the government.

In June 2020, Rapino's salary was reinstated at 50%, then reduced to 40% in September, allowing the chief executive to collect $1.66 million in compensation in 2020, according to a proxy statement filled with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. On top of that, Rapino received another $216,000 in travel costs and allowances -- including a $75,000 per year automobile allowance and $141,000 for private air travel -- for a total of $1.89 million.

Live Nation's revenue dropped 84% in 2020, compared to the year prior, as concerts largely shut down in May due to the coronavirus pandemic. That led to deep layoffs across the company globally -- while an exact number has not been released by company officials, Live Nation has made deep cuts of it's 11,000 person staff through both layoffs and furloughs over three rounds of cuts in April, May and September affecting more than 50 percent of all employees

After stock prices dropped 54% in the first weeks of the shut down, investor optimism rebounded and is now high as live events are set to return later this year. The company's stock has increased 19% over the company's 2019 record high, hitting a record  high $89.81 a share on March 5 (it closed at $82.27 on Tuesday), bolstered by high expectations for the return of live music and trillions of dollars pumped into the economy by both the Trumps and Biden administrations.

Rapino’s salary is pretty comparable to other chief executives in the travel industry, which also faced dramatic revenue dips as a result of the pandemic: Alaska Air Group chief executive Brad Tilden’s adjusted total compensation in 2020 was $3.2 million, down from $5.5 million in 2019, a more than 40% cut. Royal Caribbean Group chairman and chief executive Richard Fain's pay was $645,000, down from $1.3 million in 2020 based on a 20% drop in revenue.

Rapino did not receive a bonus for 2020 due to the company's significant drop in revenue and he forfeited the $2.9 million he was to receive in stock rewards. Overall, Rapino's compensation of $1.89 million was down about 87% from 2019, when he received $14.56 million in compensation through a $3 million base salary and $11.4 million in bonuses after the company hit a record $11.5 billion in revenue.

Live Nation President Joe Berchtold had his salary reduced by 78% due to the pandemic, according to the SEC filing, while chief financial officer Kathy Willard's compensation package was reduced by 76%.

Salaries for all employees at Live Nation -- including Rapino, Berchtold and Willard -- have been restored to 100% of pre-pandemic levels, Live Nation officials confirmed to Billboard, and the company is bringing employees back from furlough and hiring for new and backfilled roles regionally in preparation for the return of live music. That includes Australia and New Zealand where pay went back to 100% in January due to the Asia Pacific region's progress combating COVID-19.