by Howie Cockrill
In Part 2, I will focus on the team Live Nation has built to help the company move into a new era of entertainment, and some of the core business deals that exemplify what Live Nation is all about.
A major component in Live Nation’s success has been its team of executives.
Some of these executives have been with the company since its beginnings as Clear Channel Entertainment.
Others were executives at companies acquired by Live Nation, and Live Nation has wisely retained these individuals as experts in their divisions.
E-COMMERCE: Live Nation moved to shore up and expand its online presence by naming Scott Fedewa as Executive Vice President and Executive Producer of Interactive Platforms.
Fedewa, a Stanford law grad and author of the book “Internet Riches – an Entrepreneur’s Guide to E-Commerce,” left his position as CEO of Broadcast Commerce Partners, where he headed up projects for major broadcast personalities in web 2.0 entertainment, merchandise and e-commerce, website design, and online marketing.
LEGAL: For Live Nation to start executing its expansive vision, it needed legal counsel with specific experience in international securities, anti-trust, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, corporate finance and real estate law to inform the company’s strategic growth plans.
Michael Rowles fit the bill, leaving his position as General Counsel to Entravision Communications Corporation to join Live Nation. Entravision is a Spanish-language media company, owning several television stations, radio outlets and billboard companies.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS: Live Nation hired Lee Ann Gilha as SVP of Corporate Finance.
Gilha came from Banc of America Securities, where she focused on media and telecom clients.
James Kahan, formerly SVP of Corporate Development for AT&T, also joined as a member of the board of directors.
PUBLICITY: Putting on major events requires complex publicity campaigns. Live Nation hired John Vlautin as Senior VP of Communications to organize and execute its publicity initiatives and outreach.
Vlautin came from a background of executive level leadership in publicity, as the former head of the PR firm SpinLab. Prior to that he ran PR campaigns for Island Def Jam for 10 years.
TOUR MARKETING: Live Nation hired John Loken to oversee marketing and ticket sales programs for its events.
Loken had a broad background in artist management, having executive level roles at Ride Management, Fearless Records, William Morris, Warner Brothers Records, and Motown/Polygram Records.
GLOBAL TOURS: When it purchased Concert Productions International, Live Nation added CPI founder Michael Cohl to its board of directors.
Cohl has since moved up to chairman of the board and has brought experience in innovating “after-market” revenue streams from global tours and events.
He has also worked in conjunction with Live Nation’s head of global tours, Arthur Fogel. Interestingly, Fogel got his start in 1981 by working for Cohl at CPI.
Recently, William Ballard, a pioneer in Canadian concert promotion, was also brought on to the board of directors, and Luke Hede, a preeminent Australian promoter, was made head of Asian booking.
ONLINE: At the heart of Live Nation’s vision for expanding its live event revenue was a substantial online infrastructure. To execute this plan, the company hired Dave Kochbeck.
Kochbeck previously led the technology efforts of Friendster and the Howard Dean 2004 presidential campaign.
VENUES: Live Nation has approximately 110 major venues in North America. To oversee operations at all of these, the company brought on board Ned Collett.
Collett was formerly the Executive Producer for several major venues in Detroit and the Regional VP of Sports and Entertainment for National Car Rental.
MERCHANDISE: When it purchased TRUNK LTD in 2006, Live Nation brought on Brad Beckerman as Chief Creative Officer of Merchandising.
Prior to founding TRUNK, Beckerman was CEO of Groove Track, an entertainment and brand development company for Fortune 500 companies.
ALLIANCES: Live Nation has global, national and local alliance divisions, headed up by Bruce Eskowitz, Russell Wallach and Maureen Ford.
These three already had positions with Clear Channel Entertainment in music marketing, and Live Nation cemented their involvement through promotions and contract extensions.
FILM/VIDEO: Live Nation brought in Harvey Weinstein, founder of Miramax Films, as a member of its board of directors to help with branding for audio-visual content.
CORE BUSINESS DEALS
Live events are the bread and butter of the Live Nation business model, and in 2006 and 2007, the company continued to shore up its position in this arena.
In terms of affiliated venues, Live Nation has further expanded this base by adding new venues to its roster in existing and developing markets.
For example, it brokered an exclusive 15-year agreement with London’s Wembley Arena, home to approximately 200 major events each year, and purchased the 10-venue House of Blues Entertainment for $350 million.
It has also moved into new territories, such as Dubai, where it has purchased that city’s leading concert promoter.
In terms of artists and events, the past two years have seen Live Nation producing the 2006 Winter Olympics concerts and the tours of Def Leppard, Journey, Poison, Cinderella, Kelly Clarkson, Huey Lewis, Korn, Chicago, Shakira, Mariah Carey, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Gwen Stefani, The Police, Rush, Modest Mouse, The Shins, Linkin Park, Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Lopez, and Van Halen - just to name a few.
In May of 2006, Live Nation bought a controlling interest in the touring division of Concert Productions International, a company known for developing the global market for major touring acts like the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and U2 by creating new revenue streams such as VIP ticketing, fan clubs, merchandising and DVDs.
At the end of 2006, Live Nation bought Gamerco and Jackie Lombard Productions, the largest concert promoters in Spain and France respectively. This move gave Live Nation a key foothold in Europe for organizing continent wide tours.
In 2007, Live Nation and Gaiety Investments purchased a 44% interest in Academy Music Holdings Limited (AMG), which owns 12 music venues hosting 2,500 events in the UK.
Gaiety already owned a 12% interest in AMG, and Live Nation owned a 50.1% interest in Gaiety, so essentially this acquisition amounted to Live Nation holding a controlling interest in AMG.
The same year, Live Nation and Blender Magazine entered into an agreement with the Gramercy Theater in New York City, renaming the venue “Live Nation’s Blender Theater at Gramercy” and giving Live Nation exclusive booking rights at the theater.
Late in 2007, Live Nation entered into an exclusive management agreement with Hong Kong’s 10,000 seat Pop TV Arena.
Live Nation also began moving away from areas that were not what it deemed to be in its core business – specifically theatrical events and brick-and-mortar retail outlets.
2006 saw the company sell off its interests in Planet Hollywood, the Phantom of the Opera and SFX Sports. By January of 2008, Live Nation had sold off all of its theatrical holdings.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of this "Spotlight:" article, in which I will have a look at some of Live Nation's ancillary market deals in the past few years and also see what CEO Michael Rapino has to say about Live Nation in 2008.