Ticketmaster is buying a majority interest in Irving Azoff's Frontline Management (Christina Aguilera, the Eagles, Jimmy Buffett and Neil Diamond and others) and Azoff will head the combined operation, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move is designed to strenghten Ticketmaster against concert giant Live Nation who has started a competing ticketing operation.
The mainstream press contends that Ticketmaster is buying control over Azoff's star studded roster to counter Live Nation's direct relationship with the artists (Madonna, US, Jay-Z, Nickleback and the many tours it promotes). But ticketing deals are almost always made directly with the venues; not with artists. The real star power in this deal is Irving Azoff.
A shrewed negotiator who always comes out on top, Azoff has deep connections thorughout the music industry. This deal certainly represents a payday for him, as well as, a major challenge: how to stem the tide of ticketing clients to Live Nation when at the same time cutting the best deals he can for his management clients with the largest promoter in th world.
But what Irving giveth; Irving can also taketh away. What is to prevent Ticketmaster from becoming a national concert promoter? They have deep pockets, relationships with venues and a rich database of concertgoers. Now Ticketmaster also has the 100 top artists represented by Frontline Management and most of all they have Irving Azoff.