Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

U2′s 180 deal

You don’t get to be the biggest beasts in the jungle by doing stupid deals. U2′s deal with Live Nation is further proof of just why the band continue to be the smartest operators in the business. Lets be straight …

Wed, Apr 2, 2008, 11:22


You don’t get to be the biggest beasts in the jungle by doing stupid deals. U2′s deal with Live Nation is further proof of just why the band continue to be the smartest operators in the business. Lets be straight here, this isn’t about the music – U2 have not released an album which was remotely groundbreaking in years – it’s about the business and no-one can touch them in this regard. From taking a percentage of their record label in lieu of unpaid royalties to a timely hook-up with Apple, U2 have always been bright boys when it comes to the business of being in a band.

All of which means that U2 were never going to do a Madonna. What, put all their eggs in the one basket? Give control of their records and publishing to a company like Live Nation who have yet to display any idea that they have a clue what to do with these aspects of a band’s career? Why would U2 leave Universal Music and all that expertise and knowledge and experience behind for an operation like Live Nation who are untried and untested when it comes to releasing and marketing recorded repertoire?

Money? Sure, they’ve enough money to keep them going for years.

Prestige? U2 could set up their own label if they wanted prestige (then again, that might mean having to relive the Mother Records episode all over again).

Ego? It would be safe to assume that U2’s individual and collective egos are well and truly sated at this stage. Well, for now anyway.

No, U2 were always going to continue to let Jimmy Iovine and Jason Iley and co look after their records. The publishing too would remain under the control of those who had always overseen it. No need to go messing with that. There are two cash-cows they’re happy to continue milking as before.

But it made perfect sense to do a deal with Live Nation for everything else. The band had been doing global business with the company since 1997’s PopMart tour and no-one had thrown anyone out of the bed during this time for eating salt and vinegar crisps.

U2 know Live Nation can do the business when it comes to touring, branding, sponsorship and monetising the website. There’s a lot of money to be made in these areas and Live Nation know when to say yes and when to say no. Sure, U2 could do it themselves but it made better business sense to go with the top dogs.

For Live Nation, this deal is a huge winner. Their share price has risen by over 5 per cent since the annoucement was made because shareholders know that they’re getting a big brand name for their bucks. They won’t have to worry about the records and stuff which they know in their heart of hearts that they don’t have the expertise to manage. It’s all about the touring and U2 can easily do three tours in the next 12 years. It’s not like Madonna – the Live Nation share price tanked in the months after they announced that deal – where they have to worry about making sure the new material sells. With U2, that’s none of their business.

Sure, if U2′s next album is a creative flop, Live Nation can simply get the band on the road to do a Greatest Hits tour followed by a Greatest Hits One More Time tour and finally, a Greatest Hits – Your Last Time to Hear Them tour. After all, if they’re honest with us, isn’t that what U2 fans really want to hear?

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