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Summer Concert Season Booming: Live Nation CEO

Thursday, 30 Aug 2012 | 11:32 AM ET

Despite the economic downturn and weakness in Europe, it has been a booming summer concert season, according to the CEO of the largest concert business, Live Nation Entertainment.

Scott Eelis | Bloomberg | Getty Images

I sat down with Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino for an exclusive interview on how the all-important summer season is wrapping up for the concert and ticketing giant.

Rapino revealed the company’s projections for the summer through Sept. 30, and it looks good.

Global revenue is up 5 percent over last year, amphitheater shows are up 15 percent in North America, music festivals are up 30 percent, and electronic music is an unexpected growth driver, up 70 percent. And despite weakness in Europe — exchange rates weighed on the company’s quarterly EPS — Rapino says Europe is performing very strong, up 20 percent.

How is the company managing this growth in the face of economic weakness? (Read More: New GDP Numbers Do Obama No Favors.)

It all comes down to smarter ticket pricing to better fill venues. Overall ticket prices have been flat, Rapino said, unlike in recent years, when prices have crept up five or six percent.

“We have gotten smarter on how to price the house,” Rapino said. “We price the house at the beginning a little bit more, but make sure the back rows, the tough sell, are priced lower.”

Concert-Going Habits Are A-Changin': Live Nation CEO
Michael Rapino, Live Nation CEO, reveals the latest numbers on this summer's concert ticket sales, with CNBC's Julia Boorstin.

The biggest change, Rapino said, is social media. (Read More: The Rise of a Summer Hit: Tweet It Maybe.)

“Thirty percent of customers said, 'I would have gone to the show but I didn’t know about it.'” Now people are finding out about shows from their friends, which Rapino said will help Live Nation and Ticketmaster, which has a Facebook app, eat into that 30 percent number.

Rapino also addressed the secondary market — saying that the primary and secondary ticketing business are increasingly becoming one and the same. Ticketmaster just struck a deal with the NBA to be an exclusive partner for ticketing and resale ticketing.

Rapino said that he wants consumers to be able to see all their options for buying tickets when they go to LiveNation.com or Ticketmaster.com. He said that means a more streamlined buying experience, with less potential to get ripped off by scalpers. And of course it’ll also mean more revenue for the company, if they’re managing the re-sale as well as the original sale of tickets.

—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin
@JBoorstin

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.