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Live Nation's Rapino Takes Media To Task

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Live Nation president/CEO Michael Rapino contends that the press deserves a lion's share the blame for the rough touring picture for the second half of 2010.

According to a McClatchy news report, Rapino told a group of Wall Street Investors that "The press has scared about every artist” out of touring in Q4. "A lot of artists who had planned to tour are now saying they’re going to sit it out." he added.

Despite Mr. Rapino's views, Live Nation's challenges would are not likely disappear if the press stopped reporting on them.

Overall, Live Nation has indicated that they are doing better than can be expected in the face of the 2010 summer slump, citing ticket sales drop-offs of 9% for the year against overall industry wide estimates of 17%. The promoter has been working hard to try to change this trend, with discounted ticket prices and special deals as the day of a given show draws close.

"This industry gets one paintbrush that says ticket sales are down," Rapino told investors. "There's pieces of our business that are doing fabulous. Jay-Z and Eminem sold out two stadiums in New York within hours. Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber. There are bands that are just selling out instantly."

Jason Garner, Live Nation's CEO of global music, also reminded investors that ticket sales weren't Live Nation's only income stream and noted that the company makes most of it's money from beer, food, parking and merch sales at venues.

Still, ticket prices have grown at a rate well ahead of inflation in the past decade and high ticket prices do seem to be at the heart of the matter for some consumers.

"I was fortunate enough to see Petty front row (2001) and 4th row (2002) – price for the tix were around 60 bucks. Now 300+…Way to hook up the fans buddy!" reported one Tom Petty fan on an online forum.

Live Nation has acknowledged that at least some of their shows may need ticket price adjustments and have been offering fire sale prices, sometimes as $10 dollars along with 'no service fee' deals for many of their shows this summer. This strategy appears to be working in some cases and some artists are reporting jumps in ticket sales in the days leading up to a show.

However, this approach doesn't always sit well with consumers. According to the Wall Street Journal, Beth Collins of Radcliff, Ky. dropped $172, including about $30 in service fees, for two seats to a John Mayer show at the Riverbend Music Center. Collins told the Journal that two weeks later, she heard that Live Nation had dropped service fees fro the show and after another look at Ticketmaster's website, she realized that she could have better seats for less money if she'd waited. She attempted to exchange the tickets with Ticketmaster for better seats, but was told that all sales were final.

"It went right through me. I'm just hurt," Collins told the Journal. "I felt like if I hurried up and got them, I'd get decent tickets. Weeks later the great tickets came out."

Despite the effects of the current downturn on Live Nation Entertainment's bottom line, Garner has suggested the current rough touring season might be healthy for the live music industry in the long run.

"We've now reached a point that everybody has seen some kind of press about the economy, some kind of press about canceled tours," Jason Garner, Live Nation's CEO of global music told investors. "And we now have data to sit with the artists for next year and say, 'Hey, ticket price needs to come down. Your guarantee needs to come down.'" – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers