Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino Discusses Why Rock Stars Are the Best Marketers in the World

These people understand what their fans want

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino Photo: Rainer Hosch

Current gig President, CEO, Live Nation Entertainment
Previous gig President, CEO, Clear Channel Music Group
Twitter @rapino99
Age 49

How did you get your start in the live entertainment business? 
At a very young age in Canada, I had mapped out that my mission in life and my passion was live events. That passion led and guided my career path and all the choices I made along the way.

What comes next?
This sets up our next relationship, our soon-to-be-new channel that we're doing with Vice. In May we'll launch a full 24-hour, live, choice music channel with original programming and ongoing concerts. We think it's going to find a sweet spot with consumers who are looking for some high-quality, editorial original program and access to that magical live moment.

What's been the biggest change you've witnessed as mobile explodes?
[Ticketing] became frictionless and seamless, from social alerts to the entry to the venue. The experience got better. We're much more consumer-focused on how we talk, how we alert you, and how you can ultimately buy your ticket, get into the venue, order your beer from your seat, order a hot dog on your iPad on your app, see some video from your phone, and purchase the ticket and a T-shirt on the way out. That customer on the mobile phone has a much better journey to the live experience.

Live Nation works with 800-plus sponsors. How important are those relationships for the live entertainment business and for the artist? 
The artist understands and appreciates advertisers who are not only paramount to making these live events come to life, but they are also extremely important as artists are continually searching for great partners and brands to help build awareness for their tours, their brands and their products.

Live Nation launched a channel on Yahoo last year that shows one live concert every day. What's the response been?
We think that we have put together a very exciting slate of artists, and we've been very, very overwhelmed by the amount of viewers that are tuning in for the live performance of this high-quality production.

How has the role of the artists changed in all of this?
I've met plenty of CMOs in life, and I always say that I've never met any that can hold a candle to rock stars, who I truly believe are the greatest brand managers in the world. You look at the Rolling Stones. It had the lips, the logo and the style. You look at Jay-Z, who I think is probably the smartest brand marketer I've ever met. These people understand the core of what their brand is and what their fans want.

Has there been an artist who has left you completely starstruck?
Bono. He still is somebody who, and I don't say I'm starstruck in that sense, I'm always in awe of. It doesn't matter how many times I've been with him, he's still an exceptional man that continually inspires me in many ways in life.


Adweek Blog Network