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‘He Is the Real Deal in a Business Full of Frauds:’ What Kid Rock, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and Bono Say About Live Nation’s Michael Rapino

‘He Is the Real Deal in a Business Full of Frauds:’ What Kid Rock, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and Bono Say About Live Nation’s Michael Rapino

Live Nation artists talk about their work with the CEO of the world’s largest concert promotion company

Billboard asked a number of artists who have worked with Live Nation to discuss their experiences with Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino. Here’s what they had to say:

Bono: “Rapino and I share the same birthday — people who follow the stars tell us that makes us “cosmic twins.” Stars who follow the people will tell you if you’re on a runaway train, Michael will not just lie across the tracks he’ll build you a railway that can handle the speed and take the load.”

Kid Rock: “Michael is a music fan first.  He has also been 100 percent about working with me directly as well as my team to improve the fan experience at every level. When I came up with crazy ideas like $20 tickets and serving $4 beers to combat what we now know as ‘the great recession’, he didn’t balk. We crushed numbers, worked together and got it done for the fans. He is the real deal in a business full of frauds.”

Shakira: “In this industry everyone wants a piece of you. That metaphorical way of modern cannibalism is understandable, but it is precisely for that reason that you can only trust a few [people]; and only a few are able to leave a mark on your life and your career. Mike Rapino has been one of those very select people who I feel truly blessed to have coincided with, in this moment in time. Like many others, I respect him for the smart businessman and strategist that he is, but I especially admire him for his humanity. Whenever I was at a crossroad in my career, or going through troubled times — like recently with my vocal cord injury — I went to Mike and left with not only wise advice but most importantly feeling that I wasn’t alone.”

Justin Timberlake: “Mike is a rare breed of human and businessman combined. He is honest and trustworthy. He really cares about the artist and how the touring experience can be at the highest quality for music fans. But, my favorite thing about Mike is that he cares the most about you, the person. I think I’ve had more conversations with him about being a father than anything business related. That, in my opinion, speaks the loudest about the man that he is.”

Rihanna: “Michael can make the impossible happen and always seems to be available, which is not an easy task when you are working with hundreds of artists in hundreds of different countries. Additionally, he has supported The Clara Lionel Foundation [which Rihanna established in honor of her grandparents] from the beginning, which means the world to me. That generosity defines who he is as a human being.”

Lars Ulrich (Metallica): “He’s taught me that it’s all about the experience … and whether it’s Michael making a connection with an employee or an artist, or me making a connection with a fan or a peer, it’s all about that interaction. I’m hard-pressed to think of a CEO who has a more easygoing demeanor and is as engaged and passionate about the core aesthetics of his company and what it represents to him. Then at the end of the night, somehow he’s also the guy that you sit down and have a beer with and you’ll never know he’s anything other than a kid from Thunder Bay.”

Billboard Power 100 2018

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