Ridgeway Looks To Plug Gaps

At a time when it’s easy to imagine him being preoccupied with the proposed Ticketmaster merger and the UK Competition Commission’s objections to it, Live Nation International chief exec Alan Ridgeway is still finding time to plug the gaps in the company’s global coverage.

“You only have to look at places where we haven’t got offices,” was the nearest he came to giving Pollstar a clue about where LN’s next expansion will come.

In Europe, the list of Live Nation’s blank spots includes Austria and Switzerland and would still include Germany if LN chief Michael Rapino didn’t oversee the purchase of a 20 percent share in Marek Lieberberg’s Frankfurt-based promoting company in December 2003.

The global list would include Australia and Japan, but it may also pay pundits wanting to second-guess Ridgeway’s next move to look at areas where Live Nation already has a presence.

The last expansion came in France, where it’s been operating since buying a majority interest in Jackie Lombard’s promoting business in 2007, and it didn’t have the usual hallmarks of LN’s European growth.

It was announced Nov. 30 and had clearly involved head-hunting promoters who were working for major rivals, rather than making an acquisition. And, for once, the whole industry didn’t know about it happening at least six months before it was announced.

It seems to have been a more covert operation in which LN president of talent for international music Shane Bourbonnais and Isabelle Gamsohn, managing director of the Paris office, managed to recruit Angelo Goppe from Nous Productions, Armel Campagna and Damien Chombard-Boudet from Gerard Drouot Productions and Deluxe Productions chief Jonathan Miltat.

It also seems to have passed with much less furor than Live Nation’s last expansion in the country in 2008, which left Nous Productions chief Salomon Hazot describing Herman Schueremans as “the wolf in the sheep pen.

The Live Nation Belgium chief had crossed the border to build a festival in Arras, northern France, in cahoots with local promoter France Leduc.

Ridgeway says ever since LN has been in France it’s seen “a huge opportunity” to bring in more international acts and promote far more French talent.

The gap that Ridgeway, Bourbonnais and Gamsohn have plugged should help the company develop talent. Lombard’s very singular approach has led to her becoming one of Europe’s most-respected promoters of stadium and large arena shows, which has suited LN very well as it books many of the mega acts that can fill those venues.

But that’s probably only about 50 shows per year and there’s a large slice of market below that level.

Campagna, who was with Drouot for three years and credits the senior French promoter with an ability to work smoothly with acts from all genres, is joining LN as senior vice president of promoting and will be charged with seeing his new company gets a major slice of it.

He recently worked on tours with Lenny Kravitz, Leonard Cohen, AC/DC and Diana Krall.

Goppe, who spent five years with Nous and was a shareholder in the company, recently promoted Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Britney Spears, Kanye West and Chris Brown.

He started promoting West and Brown in France three years ago, the former in the 700-capacity Paris Traverdo and the latter in the city’s 1,500-capacity Bataclan. On their last visits to Paris, both played the 17,000-capacity Bercy.

Gampel and Goppe both stress that they have left their former companies on good terms.

Miltat is in the process of running down his Deluxe Productions to join Live Nation. Miltat will bring a pop and specialist jazz roster that includes Terry Callier, Sebastien Tellier, The Puppini Sisters, Krystle Warren and Dave Holland Quintet.