As more artists cancel events in North Carolina in protest of HB2, the CEO of the world’s largest concert company says he stands by the decisions of Pearl Jam, Boston and Bruce Springsteen to pull out of the state and supports other artists who wish to do the same.
“We work with the artist,” Live Nation’s Michael Rapino told Amplify. “With HB2, we continue to act in the service of our artists and are 100% supportive when they choose to take a stand against the law by canceling shows.”
A long-time supporter of LGBT rights, Rapino said he recognizes that he is uniquely positioned to take a stand against the law. Boston’s cancelled shows at Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre (May 4), White Oak Amphitheatre in Greensboro (May 5) and Red Hat Amphitheatre in Raleigh (May 6) were all Live Nation-backed shows, as was Pearl Jam’s gig at PNC Arena in Raleigh (April 20).
“What is surprising is that more of the leaders in the music business have not come forward to support the groundswell of artists and managers who have opposed this discriminatory law,” Rapino said.
Passed in a special legislative session and quickly signed by NC Governor Pat McCrory last month, House Bill 2 has been widely criticized for villainizing transgendered individuals. It also allows for discrimination against gays and lesbians and restricts their ability to sue over inequality under the veil of religious liberty. The law has led to the cancellation of dozens of events and conferences in the state and has prompted Cirque du Soleil to cancel three performances planned in North Carolina. Other artists like Duran Duran and Mumford and Sons have opted not to cancel their shows, but to use their concerts as a platform to condemn the law and donate the proceeds to LGBT causes.
We asked Rapino how Live Nation strikes a balance and he told us, “Again, it’s about what the artist chooses to do. Whether that’s canceling a show or continuing with a performance, we are behind them and the decisions that are right for them.”
As for the impact the law has on Live Nation venues like The Fillmore in Charlotte and Raleigh’s Walnut Creek Amphitheater, Rapino said, “Live Nation believes in equality and mutual respect for all, plain and simple. That has always been my message to employees and continues to be. Our venues in North Carolina are open to all North Carolinians equally.”
Live Nation has a long history of supporting gay rights and LGBT causes. In 2008, the company donated $50,000 to urge Californians to vote against Prop 8, a law that outlawed gay marriage. Live Nation has also been recognized by groups like the LGBT Bar for supporting equality causes and it helped staged last year’s National LGBT 50th Anniversary Concert Event in Philadelphia.
“Artists and the music business at large have always been at the forefront of social change and standing up for human rights,” Rapino said. “Live Nation is no exception. We have always believed in and championed equality for people regardless of their gender identity, religious preference or sexual orientation.”