Live Nation president/CEO Michael Rapino confirmed today (Oct. 16) that Madonna has entered into an unprecedented global partnership with the company. She will become the founding artist in LN’s new Artist Nation division, led by Rolling Stones tour producer Michael Cohl.
“The idea that an iconic artist like Madonna would pick a promoter to be a long-term partner with truly validates our business model,” Rapino tells Billboard.com.
“We put a lot of time and effort into what kind of deals we’re going to do [and] how we’re going to do them, with certainty that we can execute and maximize on those deals,” adds LN global music chairman Arthur Fogel. “We are 100% committed, confident and ecstatic about this deal and about our ability to deliver on the economic model for both her and us as partners.”
The 10-year deal encompasses all of Madonna’s future music and music-related businesses, including the exploitation of the Madonna brand, new studio albums, touring, merchandising, fan clubs/Web sites, DVDs, music-related television and film projects and associated sponsorship agreements. This model will address all of Madonna’s music ventures as a total entity for the first time in her career.
“The real story here is while everyone’s talking 360 [degree deals], we were quietly building the services to do it right,” Rapino says. “We have spent a considerable amount of resources building this Artist Nation division first and then going after artists second. Madonna would not have done a 360 deal with us just because of our touring capability. We had to prove to her and others that we have been working on and built a very good execution capacity at Artist Nation.”
The Madonna deal (which has been valued in published reports as worth $120 milion) has not been without its detractors, but Rapino says Wall Street still needs to be educated on new music business models, particularly the global scale of a deal like this.
“We have been consistent for two years talking about taking our global concert business of 10,000 shows and 1,000 artists [annually] and extending them to the fan through our online ticketing, and [forming] longer and deeper relationships with the artist,” says Rapino.
A key broker in the deal was Fogel, producer of Madonna’s last three worldwide tours. Asked what contractual obligations Madonna might have to tour and record, Fogel says, “We can’t get into that other than to say the history of Madonna is very clear. She is incredibly hard working, determined, competitive and creative, and her entire career has been consistently about delivering on all levels, whether it’s live or on her records. That’s who she is and that’s who she will be going forward.”
Meanwhile, Cohl moves forward as chairman/CEO of Artist Nation, a multi-faceted one-stop shop overseeing what Cohl calls “unified rights.” “Between CPI and Live Nation at various stages, we’ve been developing the unified rights model for almost 20 years,” he says, adding that while much has changed, “It’s still about artists, it’s still about music, it’s about what they write, it’s their babies, their songs and how they perform them. And we’re going to do a better job, we believe, of connecting them to a broader audience.”