It’s Official: Cohl Exiting Live Nation; Slower Deal-Making Ahead

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Live Nation’s music industry bull-charge has created a casualty at the top. On Friday, the live concert conglomerate confirmed the departure of live performance pioneer Michael Cohl, effective immediately. Cohl will relinquish his role as chief executive of Live Nation Artists, a group spearheading a number of 360-degree artist mega-deals. Cohl will also resign from the board and assume a consultancy role within the organization.

The exit of Cohl, who has overseen tours for some of the biggest names in music including The Rolling Stones, U2, and Pink Floyd, follows a serious standoff with Michael Rapino, president and chief executive of Live Nation. The disagreement between the executives reportedly surrounded the pace at which mega-deals would be signed. Cohl wanted an aggressive deal-signing spree, while Rapino favored a more measured approach.

“The foundation of Live Nation Artists is firmly established, and I thank Michael for agreeing to stay with the company as a consultant,” Rapino said in an official statement. While the statement was cordial, it was clear that the disagreement had been significant enough to warrant Cohl’s departure from the company.

The departure of Cohl, who had been with Live Nation since 2008, comes at a time of significant growth for the company. Live Nation has been expanding its presence in the live music industry through a series of strategic acquisitions, including the purchase of Ticketmaster in 2010. The company has also been aggressively pursuing 360-degree deals, which involve partnering with artists to generate revenue from all aspects of their careers, including recorded music, merchandise, and touring.

Cohl had been instrumental in the development of these 360-degree deals, which have become increasingly popular in the music industry in recent years. In 2017, Live Nation Artists signed a 10-year deal with Jay-Z, reportedly worth $200 million, that included revenue from his music, live performances, and other business ventures. The company has also signed similar deals with artists like Madonna, Rihanna, and Shakira.

Despite the departure of Cohl, Live Nation remains committed to its strategy of pursuing 360-degree deals with top artists. The company is reportedly in talks with Taylor Swift, who recently left her longtime record label and is now a free agent. Swift is one of the biggest names in music, and a deal with her would be a major coup for Live Nation.

The departure of Cohl is a reminder that even the most successful companies can experience internal disagreements and personnel changes. Live Nation has been on a tremendous growth trajectory in recent years, but it will need to continue to navigate the complex terrain of the music industry as it pursues its ambitious goals.

For Cohl, the departure from Live Nation marks the end of a long and successful career in the music industry. He began his career as a promoter in the 1970s, working with artists like Frank Zappa and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He went on to become a major player in the industry, overseeing tours for some of the biggest names in music. Cohl has also been recognized for his philanthropic work, including his efforts to raise money for AIDS research.

In his new role as a consultant for Live Nation, Cohl will have the opportunity to continue to contribute to the industry that he has been a part of for so long. While his departure from the company was undoubtedly difficult, it is clear that his contributions to Live Nation and the music industry as a whole will be remembered for years to come.