Rapino Talks To The Street

The readers of The Wall Street Journal recently got an introduction to Clear Channel Entertainment‘s new global music chief and his plans for the company. In a February 28th article, Michael Rapino ran through the planned retooling of CCE.

Rapino took the reins late last year after operating the robust European division. Changes at CCE have been swift and visible since then – notably the return of the promotion company names under its umbrella, from Avalon Attractions and Bill Graham Presents on one coast to Electric Factory Concerts and Ron Delsener Presents on the other.

The prexy spoke about other changes down the road, things familiar to industry professionals but not necessarily familiar to the general readership of a publication like WSJ.

For instance, Rapino discussed a change to the traditional deal structure, at least at CCE venues. (The article gave the impression a new deal structure could be available for any concert promoted by CCE; Rapino verified with Pollstar it would be for performances inside CCE venues.)

Rapino wants to eradicate artist guarantees at shows in CCE venues. Instead, the artist would receive 100 percent of box office receipts and Clear Channel would take the ancillary income, such as parking fees and concessions. Outside CCE buildings, the traditional deal structure still applies.

The WSJ speculated competitors AEG Live and House of Blues Concerts could snag more concerts by offering enticing guarantees, but the CCE president said he isn’t worried because he’s focusing on the long term.

“If we take care of the fan and we take care of the artist, the market share will take care of itself,” Rapino told the paper.

He talked about Clear Channel’s plans to put a $20 ceiling on amphitheatre lawn tickets and eliminate facility fees on those seats. There have also been genuine discussions about allowing blankets back into the lawn area, which means less money from lawn chair rentals and a slightly lower capacity. Ultimately, though, it probably means an improvement to that buzz word “concert experience” and less kvetching from casual fans about ticket prices.

As reported in Pollstar, Rapino plans to limit Ticketmaster fees to $5.

With CCE’s effort to lower the cost to the consumer, Rapino hopes the artist side will recognize the effort and do its part by lowering guarantees or accepting the new deal structure.

“You have to do that part, to engage the artist and manager that this is a two-way street,” he said. “We are doing our part to bring ticket prices down.”