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Michael Rapino discusses LN-Verizon 5G partnership

Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino has given the lowdown on the company’s “groundbreaking” 5G technology and ticket presale partnership with Verizon.

The multi-year deal will see LN work with Verizon to to create “immersive in-person and virtual experiences”, in addition to launching a new “First Access” ticket presale programme – exclusively for members of the Verizon Up customer loyalty scheme – for in-demand live tours including The Weeknd, Imagine Dragons and Rosalía.

Verizon will continue to deploy 5G Ultra Wideband in Live Nation clubs, theatres and amphitheatres across the US, enabling concert-goers to stream, share photos and videos, and download content at speeds up to 10x faster than 4G.

Speaking to CNBC’s Techcheck, Rapino said: “Hans [Vestberg, Verizon chief] and I’ve been talking for over a year now about the ways we can use his great new technology 5G to finally empower all of our venues and shows.

“When you go to a concert, it’s 50/50 whether you can find reception, whether you can post a picture, whether you can phone your friends. So the idea now is that all of our venues will be lit up with this very efficient 5G; it’s going to make it so much better for the fan.

“We can now start figuring out ways we can engage with that customer on site from upgrades to special merchandise to special access.”

Verizon and Live Nation are also working together to provide exclusive access to select artists’ live streaming concerts through Veeps streaming platform as part of +play, a new platform exclusive to Verizon customers, launching later this year.

“The pent-up demand is so big right now for the customers this summer”

“We kind of look at our fan as the promoter,” said Rapino. “The great part about the concert business is it’s a Kodak moment. Everyone has to post that moment when they’re there. If you’re on the first Harry Styles concert in New York and 20,000 people are posting and reposting and I’ve still got 70, 80 shows to sell throughout the world, that momentum every night of Instagram, social, TikTok – all the ways those fans help spread the word – is incredibly valuable marketing to us.

“The physical event is the magic, right? The two hours that you’re at [Madison Square Garden] to watch a show, that’s the non-duplicatable part. Any way that we can take those two hours and help market it, enhance it, complement it, we think that’s great for our business and our fans and for the artist.”

Rapino added that concert tickets were “flying out of the door” as the promoter remains on track for a record 2022, despite global concerns over the Ukraine war and rising inflation. Live Nation publicly pledged not to do business with Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Obviously what’s happening in Ukraine is horrible and we’re doing everything we can to support and see how this plays out,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of shows in that area so that hasn’t really affected our business. Europe seems to be business as usual right now for the summer so we haven’t seen any disruption in our core business around the world in terms of touring.”

Rapino also said that he’s yet to see inflation bite, and that the 24-month shutdown of the business means that “the pent-up demand is so big right now… We’re still tracking 30% plus up year-over-year, we’re seeing consumers buying tickets on sale this weekend. We had sold-out festivals this weekend.”

He added: “I do believe that the pent-up demand over the last two years is going to power through any short term inflation issues. Tickets seem to be flying out of the door both from the front seat to the back. So we’re looking still for a record ’22 across the globe.”


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