This is the L.A.-based concert-promotion company that has engaged in a very expensive - some would say very questionable - strategy of making mega-deals with Madonna, Jay-Z and other name-brand artists. These "360 deals" have Live Nation shelling out huge amounts of cash ($150 million for Jay-Z alone) in return for exclusive rights for most everything, from recordings to concert tours to merchandise. The WSJ reports that CEO Michael Rapino wants to slow down the pace of dealmaking - the stock is down 44 percent since the first deal, with Madonna - but Chairman Michael Cohl wants to speed things up. The disagreement over strategy became a full-blown feud, with Cohl threatening to leave Live Nation.
The company's board at one point was prepared to intervene, setting up a subcommittee to bring the two executives together in Dallas for peace talks. The two executives have since resumed speaking to each other, a person familiar with the situation says, and Mr. Cohl has dropped his threat to leave. The debate over how far Live Nation can push its strategy remains unresolved, however.
Sharp declines in the sale of recorded music have made it difficult for traditional record labels to survive by selling music alone. So a variety of players are attempting to build broader businesses around each artist, such as touring and merchandising, which traditionally have been handled by separate entities. The combination of businesses is risky, however, in part because profit margins in concert promotion are perilously thin, and a bad tour could undercut the overall value of a package deal.