Ticketmaster, the world’s largest ticket dealer, and Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, have merged into one humungous concert-promoting-ticket-selling company, Live Nation Entertainment. Guess what? They claim the deal will be a great thing for fans. Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation said:
This combination will drive measurable benefits to consumers and accelerate the execution of our strategy to build a better artist-to-fan direct distribution platform.
And Irving Azoff–whose Front Line Management which handles the Eagles, Steely Dan and Jimmy Buffet is owned in part by Ticketmaster–explained:
The goal of this company is going to be to get more artists to work and fill more venues and fill more seats.
But there’s a difference of opinion from politicians and at least one artist, especially after last week’s Ticketmaster snafu, when fans buying Bruce Springsteen tickets were automatically redirected to TicketsNow, a Ticketmaster subsidiary which resells tickets at a substantial mark up. Tickets with a face value of $65 and $95 were listed on the reseller’s site for $200 to $4,998.
When the ticketing issue arose, Springsteen wrote on his website:
The abuse of our fans and our trust by Ticketmaster has made us as furious as it has made many of you…The one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be Ticketmaster and Live Nation coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing. If you, like us, oppose that idea, you should make it known to your representatives.
After receiving phone calls from angry fans over the ticketing re-direct, New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram asked for an investigation into the ticketing practices, while New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell wants a Federal Trade Commission investigation into the matter, saying:
There is significant potential for abuse when one company is able to monopolize the primary market for a product and also directly manipulate, and profit from, the secondary market.
Now that the merger has been announced, Pascrell has called for the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings, and Sen. Charles Schumer, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee joined the fray, commenting:
This merger would give a giant, new entity unrivaled power over concertgoers and the prices they pay to see their favorite artists and bands. It must be viewed skeptically and scrutinized with a fine-toothed comb by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.
a classic bait-and-switch,
though Ticketmaster’s Barry Dillard characterized it as
a technical glitch.
That Diller has a way with words. He also told the Hollywood Reporter (reported in its digital edition):
Ticketmaster doesn’t set ticket prices; Live Nation doesn’t set ticket prices. Artists set ticket prices.
How exactly are artists responsible high ticket prices when Live Nation, which owns 140 venues, produces 2,2000 concerts annually and Ticketmaster sells all the tickets? These two companies were pretty much the only game in town before merging into a
trust monopoly, and now fans and bands are super-screwed. Welcome to the jungle, Sinclair Lewis style.