A fierce battle has broken out among top executives at Live Nation Inc. over the concert-promotion company's ambitious strategy to reshape the struggling music industry by making wide-ranging but expensive deals with artists such as Madonna and Jay-Z, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The battle is over the limits of that strategy, in which Live Nation has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to a handful of performers in return for exclusive rights to release their recordings, promote their concert tours and sell T-shirts and other merchandise bearing their images.
Having laid out so much cash -- an estimated $120 million for Madonna and $150 million for Jay-Z alone -- Live Nation Chief Executive Michael Rapino has sought to slow the pace of deal making so he can ascertain that deals already struck are working before entering new ones. But the company's chairman, concert promoter Michael Cohl, wants to quickly strike deals with as many as 15 more artists.
According to people familiar with the matter, the dispute in recent weeks boiled over into a full-blown feud, with Mr. Cohl threatening to leave Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Live Nation.
The company's board at one point was prepared to intervene, setting up a subcommittee to bring the two executives together in Dallas for peace talks. The pair have since resumed speaking to each other, a person familiar with the situation says, and Mr. Cohl has dropped his threat to leave. But the debate over how far Live Nation can push its strategy remains unresolved.
Messrs. Rapino and Cohl couldn't be reached for comment.
The music business has looked on with fascination in recent months as Live Nation spent huge sums to attract not just Madonna and Jay-Z, but also Irish rockers U2 and teen sensations the Jonas Brothers; the latter two deals give the company fewer rights, and so are presumably less lucrative.
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