Local Concert Promoter MMI Live Is Now Live Nation Philippines. What Does That Mean Exactly?
MMI Live, the local concert promoter that helped bring gigantic music acts to the Philippines like Coldplay, Madonna, and U2, was acquired by Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) and is now formally known as Live Nation Philippines. The formal announcement of the acquisition was made during a splashy event at Rockwell, Makati on Monday (April 25).
“It is an extremely exciting opportunity to be a part of this big company; in fact, the biggest live entertainment company and event promoter in the whole world,” MMI Live founder president and CEO Rhiza Pascua said during her speech. She has been appointed to lead Live Nation Philippines as managing director.
Live Nation Philippines Managing Director Rhiza Pascua
And that’s not an overstatement. LNE produces over 40,000 shows and over 110 festivals each year (pre-pandemic, of course). It also owns and operates more than 270 venues across the globe. Roger Field, president of Live Nation Asia Pacific broke it down even further: “This means 5,000 touring artists (reaching) 98 million fans and (selling) about 500 million tickets.”
But what does this acquisition mean exactly?
All over the world, Live Nation Entertainment has been busy snapping up companies that add value to its standing as a truly global entertainment behemoth. From 2009, when Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster to become LNE, until today, the company has made at least 11 major acquisitions. Some of the more prominent ones include Mexican concert promoter OCESA and music livestreaming platform Veeps, both in 2021, British music venue owner and operator Academy Music Group in 2007, concert discovery service Songkick in 2018, and live events and artist management company C3 Presents (the company behind Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza) in 2014, among others.
We can now add MMI Live to that list.
MMI Live, which Pascua started pretty much on her own in the mid-1990s, has had a mutually beneficial relationship with LNE since 2014, but talks on the acquisition began only in 2018.
“It obviously means a formal financial partnership,” Field told Esquire Philippines just before he and Pascua went up onstage at the launch. “When we partner with businesses we invest financially and bring the business properly into our portfolio and into the family. It enables us to co-invest on growth and proper integration into the wider network of what we're delivering across the world.
“Previously, Rhiza was our trusted partner here and helped produce some significant shows,” he added. “But now, together with our investment, we’ll be able to look together at the full scope of everything that we do globally around things like venue development, artists development, and bringing more shows into the Philippines and building on the incredible footprint she's stamped on the Philippines globally. So more it just means more of everything really.”
Field said that the partnership means a much longer-term strategic view of how LNE will grow the business in Asia Pacific.
“The Philippines is already such a great market, particularly for Western content,” he said. “I think there's a lot of opportunity here, which Rhiza has been speaking with us about for a long time and especially in respect of creating new events and venues.”
Live Nation Asia Pacific President Roger Field
Field also sang the praises of Pascua, saying she is “highly regarded overseas” for helping put the Philippines on the live music events map globally.
“I think what Rhiza has done is make sure that the Philippines is now part of a global strategy for growth,” he said. “There's a lot of unsatisfied demand and growth potential in the Asia Pacific region. My job is to make sure that we're maximizing that.
“I think Rhiza is a very strong profile and a very strong voice in our organization now, and particularly the reputation that she has in the U.S.; not only the relationships but her reputation for delivery. I think (the acquisition is) going to mean a lot more activity for the Philippine market.”
For Pascua, the opportunity to become part of a truly global entertainment brand is the culmination of a lifetime of work. Asked if she ever imagined something like this happening to her company, she replied, “Let's put it this way. I only dreamed of this.”
In his speech, Field also talked about the ability of live shows to connect companies with consumers, citing existing partners like Pepsi, Budweiser, Mercedes, Toyota, Samsung, and Marriott Hotels.
“We have more than 1,000 brand partners across the globe,” he said. “And we hope to work with more leading brands across the nation.”
The announcement was well-timed to capitalize on the easing of travel restrictions and the gradual return of live shows here in the country and elsewhere in the world. In this regard, Live Nation Philippines is well-positioned for exponential growth in the coming months.
The Live Nation Philippines team with Roger Field
“I'm very, very bullish (about the resurgence of live shows)," Field said. "I just came back from seeing BTS in Las Vegas. They played four stadium shows. Everything that we're putting on sale is selling very strongly. Attendance is great. People are spending more at shows.
“I think it's been a very difficult two years, two and a half for much of the Asia market because it's been slow to open,” he added. “What it serves to do is remind people of what we do and the importance of what we do. That sort of fraternity in the live environment and the fact that that can't be replicated. So I think it's going to as a result come back very, very, very strongly. And we've taken those two years to plan for it. So we're ready for it.”
Unfortunately, both Pascua and Field remained tight-lipped about which specific music acts they’re planning to bring over to the Philippines soon. But if you know anything about the caliber of artists MMI Live has brought to the country in years past, plus all of the big names associated with LNE all over the world today, it’s probably safe to assume that Filipino live music geeks are going to be in for a wild ride.