Live Nation To Sell Theatrical

Live Nation released its fourth-quarter financial statement March 1st, announcing that although it is still operating in the red, its revenue has increased nearly 26 percent, narrowing the gap to profitability. But that wasn’t the only significant news in the earnings statement.

When Live Nation spun-off from Clear Channel Communication as a stand-alone entity, it was a chimera of disparate companies beyond live entertainment, including a sports agency division, a motor sports division and a theatrical division.

Live Nation has been jettisoning its fringe interests, notably the sports agency one sport at a time, and has sold off several other non-core parts of its operation.

But buried in the earnings report was a throwaway line that LN will be hiving off its Broadway theatrical business sometime this year. This will include its various theatre series around the country and its interest in some venues but the company will keep some theatres such as the Boston Opera House.

Live Nation chief Michael Rapino has stated that the Motor Sports division is not for sale at this time but the company left open the door to put it on the block in the future.

Live Nation is now officially selling five of its sheds because the land under them is worth much more money being developed into something else. In addition to the previously mentioned Sleep Train Amphitheatre (Sacramento), Starwood Amphitheatre (Nashville), Verizon Wireless Music Center (Indianapolis) and Germain Amphitheatre (Columbus), the company is also looking to sell its San Antonio-area shed. Most of the rest of Live Nation’s sheds are leases and do not include ownership of the land.

This is the case with the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre near Kansas City. The LN lease on that venue is reportedly up after this year and the land owner will not renew it so he can repurpose the property.

In the case of Starwood, that deal is reportedly done and sources say Live Nation will have to remove its equipment and be off the land by the end of March.

Live Nation has made it clear that it is not dropping out of the shed biz, but it is looking to bolster other parts of its business, especially in the mid-level venues where LN will expand the HoB and Fillmore brands.

Rapino has indicated the company wants to transform itself into a vertically integrated music company versus its current incarnation as a concert company, and will try and do business with artists wherever and whenever possible.

Live Nation is a giant when it comes to the festival business of Europe, but that is not the same stateside. Expect Live Nation to either buy some existing festivals or generate some new ones to narrow that gap.