I'm not happy that I've ignored the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger so far simply because it is so daunting a deal and there are so many ramifications that I didn't even know where to start. I still don't, in many ways, so I'm linking to some pieces that bring us all up to speed on the potential merger.
After some time to digest more details, I'm hoping to give an in-depth analysis, but, in the meantime, here are some things to ponder: As Billboard's Ray Waddell says, should this deal go through, "The merger would create the most powerful and influential entity the music business has ever known. As manager, ticketer, venue operator, merchandiser and more, this giant would tap into revenues, if not outright control them, from virtually every source in the chain: live performance, merchandising, ticketing, content, sponsorships, licensing and digital."
Waddell talked with both Ticketmaster head Irving Azoff and Live Nation head Michael Rapino in a story posted on Billboard.com today. There are still plenty of questions here and we're not buying Rapino's answer about why Ticket Master went to the trouble to develop its own ticketing system if this merger was a possibility.
Here's something to think about-is that kind of domination a good thing? Does it create opportunities that otherwise don't exist in these horrific economic times? For example, because there are so many other sources of revenue: parking, concessions, etc., can this new entity, Live Nation Entertainment, take chances on smaller acts or actually offer lower ticket prices? My hunch is the lower ticket prices are solely a function of market demands and won't change no matter from whom you're buying them. We're already seeing some acts offer lower ticket prices in this market, but I wouldn't expect Eagles ticket prices to come down any time soon. FYI: the Eagles have been managed by Azoff since the beginning of time.
The Associated Press is now reporting that The Justice Department will investigate the merger to see if it creates a ticket-selling monopoly. You think? We hope part of the investigation includes how this will affect already astronomic ticketing fees. Will they go up in an effort to pay for the deal?
We're sure that Live Nation's main competitor in the concert promotion field, AEG, will be watching this very closely. Forbes.com ran an interesting interview with AEG head Randy Phillips about his thoughts on the deal.
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