Rapino Talks Cohl

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino recently sat down with the Wall Street Journal’s Ethan Smith, discussing, among other things, the rift between Rapino and then-chairman Michael Cohl.

Rapino had brought his old mentor to the fold in 2007. Live Nation purchased Cohl’s Concert Productions International for $154 million in cash and stock, making Cohl the largest stockholder in the company, and named him chairman.

Eventually, Cohl and Rapino had a difference of opinion as to how aggressively Live Nation should make 360 deals, with Rapino favoring a more conservative approach.

So far, that’s a story many in the industry are familiar with. But the WSJ article added some new details, including that when the rift between the two friends reached boiling point, Cohl called an emergency board meeting.

He was soundly defeated and Rapino stripped Cohl of his power and named him consultant, according to the article.

“Reached for comment, Cohl doesn’t dispute this account,” the WSJ said. The decision also sent a message to artists and investors that 360 expansion deals would be lessened.

“The tap got turned off,” Rapino said.

But there are still some artists on the plate.

“Kanye? Absolutely,” Rapino said. Live Nation is already in talks with Kanye West, Rapino said, and will likely sign a 360 deal, sans recorded music.

West has already visited the Beverly Hills, Calif., office and got a business pitch from executives.

“He said, ‘I thought I was just coming in here to get a big check. But you guys can actually help me grow my business!” Rapino told the WSJ.