Live Nation's CEO talks tackling competition, bots and terrorism

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Live Nation may be the largest of all the concert companies, but it's also facing growing competition from a range of places.

CEO Michael Rapino insists he isn't concerned because his global business has so much reach, and also so much data about consumer behavior.

Earlier this week, Pandora laid out its plans to make ticket sales a big part of its new strategy to grow user revenue, by featuring its Ticketfly acquisition in its streaming music service. But Rapino thinks it doesn't make sense to market to people while they're listening to music — better to reach them via social or on search. Rapino said the company traditionally spent $3 million to $4 million on advertising for a concert, primarily on print, radio and billboards, and over 80 percent of that has shifted over to online.

"We want to be where the customer is already active: Facebook being one of the best converters for us, as well as Instagram. If you've already liked Rihanna on Instagram and you're following her, we use that data feed," said Rapino.

"It's been much more sharp-shooting, and we can go social, we can go where you are and where Rihanna is and drive conversion there. Much higher than you can on a Pandora or a radio station, which is a real shot that you're not going to really nail that Rihanna fan over that day," he said.

Music to Live Nation's ears
Music to Live Nation's ears

Rapino even took a swipe at rival AEG, saying that while it is strong in terms of real estate, owning L.A. Live and the like, its concert business is dramatically smaller than those of the Live Nation–owned Ticketmaster.

"Their ticketing business is nonexistent. So you know generally our competition — there's lots of competitors on a promoting basis locally around the world. AEG tends to be more in the real estate space that we're not, so we don't tend to bump into them on a daily basis in that space," he said.

Where Rapino did acknowledged steep competition was in the secondary market space, with a range of rivals from the established StubHub to the upstarts like SeatGeeks. Another emerging competitor: bots. And while Rapino supports government efforts to crack down on bots, he doesn't think regulation alone will fix the problem.

Dynamic pricing of tickets has the potential of both reducing scalping and allowing artists to get more of the financial benefit of in-demand events. "The real strategy is you got to price the ticket right to the market so the content can participate on that upswing," said Rapino. "I think eventually you solve it, because content — whether it's an NFL team or it's an artist — is going to have a more dynamic pricing model."

Another area the concert giant is focused on is security. It's been nearly a year since the horrible attacks at a Paris concert venue, and since then the company has continued to invest in security. "One of the big things we're working on is how do we identify the fan going into the venue," said Rapino. "And we're going to solve that through our Ticketmaster strategy — really taking that anonymous ticket and giving it an identity, so we have a better understanding of who was at the Beyonce show last night, and trying to get ahead of it that way too."