While multiple outlets, including Variety, reported last April that Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino was foregoing his $3 million salary for all of 2020 due to the pandemic and its devastating effect on the live-entertainment industry and the company, according to SEC filings, he did so for less than two months. His salary was reinstated at 50% as of June 1, and boosted to 60% on Sept. 16.
Rapino received expansive praise, and apparently inaccurate media coverage throughout the year, for the initial reports — which were based on a section of an April 2020 Live Nation SEC filing referencing the “duration of the salary reduction program” — that he was foregoing his salary for all of 2020. Live Nation is the world’s largest live-entertainment company.
The relevant portion of the company’s latest proxy filing — which also references compensation for president Joe Berchtold, CFO Kathy Willard and general counsel Michael Rowles, who also took substantial pay cuts — dated April 27, reads: “For 2020, (i) Mr. Rapino’s salary was reduced by 100% (i.e., he did not receive a salary) from April 16 through June 1, at which time it was restored to 50% of his contractual level through September 16, at which point the reduction was increased to 60% of his contractual level through the end of the year; (ii) Mr. Berchtold’s, Mr. Rowles’ and Ms. Willard’s salaries were reduced by 50% from April 16 through September 16, at which point the reduction was increased to 60% of their contractual levels through the end of the year; and (iii) Mr. Capo’s salary was reduced by 25% from April 16 through September 16, at which point the reduction was increased to 40% of his contractual level through the end of the year. All salary reductions were eliminated on April 16, 2021.”
The filing also notes that Rapino received $216,000 in travel costs and allowances (including a $75,000 automobile allowance and $141,000 for private air travel) for a total 2020 compensation of $1.89 million. The news was first reported by Billboard.
A Live Nation filing dated April 13, 2020 reads in part: “Given the uncertainty associated with the duration of current conditions globally, the company has launched a number of initiatives to reduce fixed costs and conserve cash… As part of these cost reduction efforts, the company will implement salary reductions, with salaries for senior executives reduced by up to 50%, and the company’s CEO voluntarily forgoing 100% of his salary for the duration of the salary reduction program. Additional cost reduction efforts include hiring freezes, reduction in the use of contractors, rent re-negotiations, furloughs, and reduction or elimination of other discretionary spending, including, among other things, travel and entertainment, repairs and maintenance, and marketing.” He did not receive a bonus or stock rewards.
Apparently, the “duration of the salary reduction program” was flexible.
Despite multiple programs to boost the company’s earnings and stock price, Live Nation’s revenue plummeted 84% from 2019 to 2020, as live-entertainment lurched to a near-complete standstill as the pandemic set in in March, and only partially recovered via drive-in concerts and a partial lifting of restrictions in various parts of the country, particularly in the Southern states.
Live Nation underwent three rounds of layoffs and furloughs, affecting more than half of its staff. However, Rapino managed to keep investor confidence high for the company’s return to health, and its stock even hit a record high of $89.81 per share last month. It closed at $82.27 on Tuesday.
Reps for Live Nation did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment. The company’s next earnings report is on May 6.
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