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Saturday 21 April 2018

Paul's $30m payday

'Fifth member' of U2 to step down as firm is sold off

Paul McGuinness admires the stage in Croke Park, Dublin, for the Vertigo Tour in 2005
Paul McGuinness admires the stage in Croke Park, Dublin, for the Vertigo Tour in 2005
McGuinness and his wife Kathy
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

PAUL McGuinness stands to make a rumoured $30m (€22.2m) from the sale of Principle Management to concert promoting giant Live Nation – but the music manager could have comfortably retired with or without it.

Though it is difficult to ascertain his exact net worth, his status as the "fifth member" of U2 has been highly profitable – the band is worth a collective $805m (€598m), according to the latest 'Sunday Independent' Rich List.

His relationship with U2 is not Mr McGuinness's only source of income. Over the course of his career the respected music manager has invested in everything from Michelin-starred New York restaurant The Spotted Pig to Dublin radio station Phantom FM.

He was also instrumental in the founding of Bray film studio Ardmore and RTE rival TV3.

But not all of Mr McGuinness's ventures have been successful.


He invested in laser shooting game Quasar in the late 1980s, alongside U2 accountant Ossie Kilkenny, but lost a large sum when a chain of leisure centres planned for Dublin and Germany did not go ahead.

Rumours suggest his brief stints managing Chrissie Hynde and Sinead O'Connor were not lucrative either.

John Malone, the chairman of Live Nation, boasts a different level of wealth. The US billionaire also heads up Liberty Global, the insurer which launched in Ireland with a heavy media campaign earlier this year. Mr Malone has close ties to Ireland, having bought elaborate Wicklow estate Humewood Castle for €7.2m.

Live Nation is thriving while so many other big players in the music industry struggle because its business doesn't hinge on making money from music sales. While it owns the copyright to some of its artists' past and future recordings – like Jay Z – it acts solely as a promoter for many others, making money from hosting concerts and selling tickets and merchandise.

Last year it produced 22,000 concerts for 2,300 artists and sold 75 million tickets through Ticketmaster, which it merged with in 2010. It also hosts festivals – a total of 69 this year, with about 1.25 million attendees.

The concert and festival industry has expanded at a rapid pace in recent years, as acts turn to touring to make up for falling record sales. Ticket prices have also been gradually rising. In 2012 Madonna advised fans to work "all year" to be able to afford to see her perform live and U2's 360 Degrees tour is still the most profitable tour ever staged, grossing more than $700m.

Live Nation also has a management division, giving it total responsibility for more than 200 of the world's biggest names, including Miley Cyrus and Kings of Leon.

Yesterday's deal involves that arm.

Irish Independent

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