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L.A. TIMES PROFILES UMG, LIVE NATION, AEG/GOLDENVOICE CHIEFS

The Los Angeles Times has recognized UMG head Lucian Grainge as a titan whose influence is “perhaps unmatched in the history of the recorded music business.” In its "L.A. Influential" series, which profiles “changemakers who are shaping every cultural corner of Los Angeles," the Times also celebrated Live Nation's Michael Rapino, AEG's Jay Marciano and Paul Tollett of Goldenvoice.

The paper's Mikael Wood cited UMG’s $50b valuation and unprecedented 35% share of the U.S. recorded-music business (“according to the trade journal HITS,” of all publications) in saluting Grainge, the chairman and chief executive of UMG, whose subsidiaries include Republic, Interscope and Capitol.

Wood interviewed Grainge at his appropriately majestic Pacific Palisades home, where the UMG monarch discussed challenges that face his labels and the industry. “The shareholders, the investors, the board—what you get with me is long-term strategy. That’s who I am. That’s what I stand for. That’s what I care about,” Grainge said.

The enviable UMG roster includes Taylor Swift, Morgan Wallen, Olivia Rodrigo, Rihanna, Billie Eilish, U2, Lady Gaga, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Ariana Grande, who called Grainge “an amazing ally and advocate for artists." UMG is also home to both Drake and Kendrick Lamar, which could make for an awkward company Christmas party.

The Times called Grainge “a thought leader shaping conditions not just for UMG acts, but for the entire industry.” He expressed enthusiasm for the emergence of AI as a tool for creating music but also declared his determination to protect artist copyrights and intellectual property.

Grainge revealed that 30 years ago, a boss likened him to Leon Trotsky, the 20th century Russian agitator who proposed “permanent revolution” against capitalism. He knew the boss “was trying to insult me, but I loved it,” Grainge said.

Rapino is “a live music overlord” who guides “the world’s largest concert promoter and a behemoth in live entertainment,” the newspaper reported, with “dizzying growth” that includes revenue of $22.7b last year.

August Brown of the Times cited some of Live Nation’s challenges, including criticism about a $500m investment by a Saudi wealth fund, the wrongful-death lawsuits stemming from the 2021 Astroworld tragedy and a recent lawsuit by the Department of Justice, which wants to dissolve Live Nation’s 2010 acquisition of Ticketmaster.

Nonetheless, Rapino expressed an optimistic calm in his interview. “There’s so much confusion around” the concert business, he said. “We need to do more work for fans to understand why they can’t get tickets, or why it’s three times the price on secondary markets.”

Elsewhere, Jay Marciano, the chief executive of AEG Presents, and Paul Tollett, chief executive of Goldenvoice, are “masterminds” who together “make a powerhouse duo.”

AEG’s recent successes include Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, Elton John’s lengthy farewell run and The Rolling Stones' ongoing Hackney Diamonds outing. In addition, Marciano has “more than doubled the company’s venue portfolio,” the Times noted, having added Crypto.com Arena in downtown L.A. and the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to its holdings.

As the head of Goldenvoice, Tollett oversees the annual Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, which Brown called “the most glamorous, musically tasteful, visually iconic and profitable music festival in the country,” plus such recent brand extensions as the country and Americana-focused Stagecoach, the AOR legacy-heavy Desert Trip and the metal festival Power Trip.

“To have your festivals become the industry’s biggest cash-spinners, while staying its most creative and ambitious musically, is a towering achievement,” the Times said.

Congrats to all the machers, and could you maybe stop sending our calls directly to voicemail?

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