Live & Touring

Live Nation & Ticketmaster Near Merger

Ticket admit one
Live Nation & Ticketmaster are near a merger according to sources sited in today's Wall Street Journal. The move would combine the world's top concert promoter and the largest ticketing firm. Ticketmaster also owns a huge stake in Irving Azoff's uber-management
firm Front Line. The deal which does not have final approval of either board would not involve cash and could be announced as early as next week.
: While Live Nation would appear to be the stronger of the two companies, it's not yet clear who would up as top dog in this deal. From Azoff to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino and all the way down the alphabet to promoter Danny Zelesko, the names involved are a powerful and cantankerous "Who's Who" of live music. The smart money has to be on Azoff, who just added Ticketmaster CEO to his business card, as the front-runner to lead the combined company. Insiders say its hard to imagine him doing any deal that didn't leave himself on top.

While early reports are that he would stay with the company. the merger might be bad news for Rapino, who has really just started to realize his vision of a unified, smarter and more consumer friendly concert industry. Live Nation's new ticketing platform which floundered last week during a Phish on-sale, would also seem a redundancy  The merger could also explain rumors that Randy Phillips may be leaving his post as head of concert rival AEG since the giants are all lining up against him.
Fan crying


Competition is always a good thing and at the top this means less of it. Talk of lower ticketing fees just went out the window. But as the big boys get fatter, it also makes room for younger leaner competitors.  Just as a new middle class of artists is beginning to find its footing in a post major label/major media age, a new middle class of concert promoters may find its footing as well.

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1 Comment

  1. Bruce, I know you’re less than enthusiastic about such a merger, but I wish I could be as optimistic about the possibilities for new entrants into the market. The main problem going forward in the concert business is the same one that was responsible for creating huge labels in recorded music: Control. Unfortunately, unlike with major labels, there is no technological advance that can break the stranglehold.
    Ticketmaster isn’t as much a concern because historically, their strategic advantage has been their size and infrastructure in offering ticketing services. As selling online became the best alternative for ticketing, TM relied on its long-term contracts. Now that those are coming up (as was clear with the Live Nation venues), TM’s control will diminish.
    Live Nation is far more troublesome. When they were owned by Clear Channel, their promotion arm used the radio arm to force bands into deals – if they didn’t let LN promote their tour then their shows wouldn’t get advertised on the radio.
    Of course, it is also troublesome that LN also owns so many venues, including a significant number of the largest venues as well as the nicest, 1,000 – 3,000 seat venues, and their merchandising is getting even bigger, not to mention their foray into recorded music.
    In the end, a merger seems like nothing but bad news. If an artist wants to play a room, they may be required to use LN to promote their tour, which will then require them to use LN ticketing, and they might also have to let LN sell their merch.
    I sincerely hope that the DOJ and FCC put the kibosh on this deal. There is scant competition as it stands and a TM/LN merger would make the situation even worse.

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