×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Touring, Streaming Drive Music Business

Here are the four people — and one group of folks — who most matter in the music biz.

Michael Rapino
It’s not how many albums you sell, but how many tickets. The live business rules, and Live Nation is the dominant player. Sure, anybody can write a check once, but if you want to tour more than your local market, chances are you’re going to come in contact with Live Nation and its CEO.

Further, Rapino controls Artist Nation, i.e., the acts. Did this make him overpay for the Miley Cyrus tour, since she’s a client? I’ll let you decide.

Rapino worked his way up from the bottom; he’s a survivor. He put the knife in Barry Diller and Michael Cohl. If you don’t think Rapino is a formidable competitor, you don’t know the people who control this business.

Jay Marciano
People are so focused on the flash of recordings that they don’t know who’s really in control.

Marciano worked his way up from local promoter to Universal Concerts to House of Blues to MSG to AEG Europe to his present role as AEG Live chairman. And everybody loves him.

Live Nation runs on fear. AEG is a family. Live Nation is Walmart. AEG is Costco.
AEG is a diverse company. From its Concerts West division with John Meglen and Paul Gongaware, Las Vegas and the Stones, to Paul Tollett and Coachella. And it’s constantly expanding, with a stake in China. It’s a two horse race: Live Nation and AEG. Both companies write the checks. They’re the key to your survival.

Lucian Grainge
Wasn’t Universal supposed to fold after Doug Morris left?

UMG chairman and CEO Grainge is a swashbuckler. He slimmed Universal and continued to have hits — and it is a hitmaking biz. Major labels have had a remarkable resurgence. Unlike Morris, the 53-year-old Grainge has many years ahead of him. It’s his record business, the rest of us just live in it.

Daniel Ek
Rail against Spotify and its founder if you must, but that just demonstrates how behind the times you are. Spotify doesn’t care about you, it cares about its competitors: YouTube, Rdio, Deezer, Beats. Only one will survive, and Spotify is so well-positioned, the game is almost over.

The only company that can compete is Google, but Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s firm can’t seem to shoot straight. Unlike Apple, which insists on getting it right, Google releases me-too product marketed poorly. At least with YouTube, they have a head start.
Meanwhile, Beats’ best option is to gain headway in the U.S. and force a merger with Spotify. This is not the headphone business, with the rest of the industry sleeping. This is an investment game. Look at scale — at how many countries Spotify is in. Spotify is a poor marketer, and nobody even knows it’s got chips in devices, but while you were lamenting payouts, Spotify invested. All that hogwash about it being unprofitable. … Look at the cell phone and cable industries. You invest and invest, then you dominate.

Independent Concert Promoters
Whether it be Don Fox’s Beaver Prods., the C3 guys, SFX or JAM, they’ve all got checkbooks, and they’re open to opportunities. They’re not as powerful as Live Nation and AEG, but they dwarf the power of any indie label. They spend cash every day.

And, except for SFX, it’s their money. So they market and do their best to get it back.

More Music

  • Jason Derulo

    Jason Derulo Celebrates Music Career Milestone, Reveals Action Movie Ambition

    Warner Records celebrated one of its own on Thursday night (Nov. 21), presenting Jason Derulo with a plaque commemorating 190 million overall sales worldwide. The event at the Argyle in Los Angeles came on the heels of his latest release, the EP “2 Sides” (Side 1)” and also marked other milestones. Variety caught up with [...]

  • Trippie Red album cover

    Album Review: Trippie Redd’s ‘A Love Letter to You 4’

    Of the SoundCloud Class of 2016-17, Trippie Redd is just about the last man standing. Lil Pump and 6ix9ine had flashes of mainstream glory but quickly combusted (or worse), Lil Xan and Lil Tracy never quite seemed to get off the ground, and two of the biggest, XXXTentacion and Lil Peep, are no longer with [...]

  • Sam Hunt Country and Pop Hitmakers

    Sam Hunt Apologizes for ‘Selfish’ Decision to Drive Under the Influence

    Country singer-songwriter Sam Hunt, who was arrested in Nashville on charges of driving under the influence and possession of an open container early Thursday morning, tweeted an apology for the incident Friday afternoon. “Thursday night I decided to drive myself home after drinking at a friend’s show in downtown Nashville,” he wrote. “It was a [...]

  • Queen and Slim soundtrack

    Album Review: 'Queen & Slim: The Soundtrack'

    “Queen & Slim,” the film, traffics in sudden tragedy and symbolic terror as it portrays the violence of self-defense and self-awareness in stark, painful terms. It deserves an equally audacious score and soundtrack, a job that has gone to another Devonté Hynes, the British singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer and director in his guise of Blood [...]

  • Michael Jackson in concert in Milton

    Michael Jackson Music Biopic in the Works From 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King has struck a deal with the Michael Jackson estate for the pop star’s life and music rights, with plans to make a feature film based on both. King has tapped “Gladiator” and “The Aviator” screenwriter John Logan for the project. The film currently has no studio or distributor attached. The [...]

  • Beck

    Album Review: Beck's 'Hyperspace'

    Veering dangerously close to the atom heart of the mainstream does something to an artist of adventure. It can make a superman weak in its presence, like Kryptonite (it took years and Tin Machine for Bowie to recover from “Let’s Dance”), or build a stronger artist by moving ever more consistently into success’s center square, [...]

  • The Edge, Adam Clayton and Bono

    U2 Tops Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran as Highest-Grossing Touring Artist of the Decade

    U2 topped the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift as the top-grossing touring artist of the 2010s, according to data from Pollstar. U2 grossed more than a billion dollars — $1,038,104,132, to be exact — although that number is likely to grow, as the group is currently on its “Joshua Tree 2019” tour in Australia, New [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content