Quick, name a ticket vendor. Ok, now name another? Are you stumped? That's not a good thing if you like going to any type of live venue in any major city.
Most people know about the evils of Ticketmaster from the infamous failed Pearl Jam boycott to those fun little service fees attached to any ticket you buy. You know the ones that turn the $35 ticket into a $50 ticket for various handling fees that are all basically automated by computers.
Reading a news-brief on BBC, I was reminded of the impending Ticketmaster world takeover & that US had now joined the UK in approving the merger. Searching for a more in-depth look at the merger, I stumbled on the excellent Chicago Tribune Problem Solver Blog, a post called "Approved: Ticketmaster, Live Nation merger." The post breaks down the logistics on the merger as well as some information of just how much of the ticketing of major concert venues will be controlled by this new conglomerate which will be called Live Nation Entertainment Inc.
If nothing else, the Ticketmaster name will be gone. It's probably for the best anyway, shooing away some of the monopolistic, negative feelings from the past. I doubt it will take long till it bubbles to the surface. Probably just one summer concert season riddled with their favorite set of fees, now available at close to 75% of the venues of this country and pretty much all of the big ones.
As part of the agreement, the new company will be under government supervision for the next ten years. Do I trust that the government has my best interests in this matter? What do they care about ticket prices except when the constituencies of congress members squawk about them?
If they do decide that the market has been completely quashed in five years, what are they going to do then break them up like the Baby Bells so they eventually merge again piece by piece.
Here's the "concessions" in brief from the Sun-Times Blog:
"The Justice Department did impose several conditions on the deal: Ticketmaster must sell one small subsidiary, Paciolan, to sports promoters Comcast-Spectacor, and it must share its ticketing software with the second largest national concert promoter, AEG Live. In theory, Ticketmaster, Comcast and AEG will now compete, offering venues three choices for ticketing, and possibly resulting in lower service fees."There is no way that the way Ticketmaster acts can not be construed as monopolizing and price gouging. For a while, they were the only show in town then came the competition from Live Nation (a spin off from another form of evil named Clearchannel, the company that ruined terrestrial radio during the end of the 90s by turning almost every major station in the USA into the same Linkin Park, Britney Spears, Nickelback filled garbage airwaves).
Live Nation's most important assets are assorted the House of Blues venues, some sports team ticketing , a large roster signing artists to all inclusive deals (covering a percentage of recording and touring), helping big time artists make more money. Most bands have separate entities representing these two parts of their business but as the record industry has gone to the toilet, these kind of deals have been more prominent giving band a one stop shop and helping established bands possibly take a bigger cut of the pie.
Artists like Eagles, Nickelback, Billy Joel, The Killers, Dave Matthews, Madonna, Jay-Z and U2 are repped by Live Nation, these band were doing their own ticketing, cutting Ticketmaster out of the pie. So what the evil bastards do? Buy the whole pie back.
Bono needs more money for champagne & AIDS. Thanks Ticketmaster, I mean Live Nation Entertainment.
This Ticketmaster-Live Nation deal has been delayed & vetted since February 2009 allowing for objectors to voice their opinion and there have been plenty of them. Type in "ticketmaster merger" into your search engine of choice and the anger will be readily visible. Just in the Google News results, which is articles from the last few days there are no less than 1100 pieces. That's quite a bit of sparked interest and healthy (sometimes vengeful) debate.
Why? Because this merger effects just about everyone. It effects the business world, it's a merger. It effects the government, causing scrutiny and outrage. It definitely effects the consumer, limiting choice and preventing true healthy competition.
What do you need to know?
Well, the hope that the fees will go down one day go down are gone. Get ready for excuses from the new combined effort about the need to raise rates as they levy their wonderful processing charge, facility charge, and never forget the fantastically titled convenience charge. I have a feeling that even after international, this battle might not be over. If there is one thing people hate, it is fee (see the fee banning, restrictive (and soon to be loopholed Credit CARD Act of 2009)
Related Articles (along with many others)
Are concert-goers the losers? (E-commerce Times)
Looking Closer at the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: What does it mean for Chicago? (Chicago Tribune)
NPR on the Merger