Ticketmonster is on the warpath. Again.
The live music sector is inching ever closer to becoming, erm, how to put this politely, more ‘consolidated’ today with the announcement that ticketing behemoth Ticketmaster is in merger discussions with promotion giants AIG and Live Nation.
The story, which first broke in the New York Times, seems to confirm the rumour which has been circulating for some years now, namely that Ticketmaster is SEEKING TO RULE THE ENTIRE LIVE ENTERTAINMENT WORLD.
Last year, the company made waves in the US with its purchase of IAG’s Front Line Management (the home of stadium rockers the Eagles and singing munchkin Miley Cyrus) as well as its acquisitions of secondary ticketing companies TicketsNow and Getmein (UK).
So, to sum up: Artists? Check. Primary Tickets? Check. Secondary Tickets? Check. Promotion? Working on it. Venues? Ditto. The Entire Live Music Industry? Give us a little time…
Rumour has it that Ticketmaster is leaning towards Live Nation, ‘pioneer’ of so-called ‘360’ deals and the label home to cutting-edge artists such as Madonna and Jay-Z. Recall that back in November 2007, Ticketmaster and Live Nation had a rather loud public display of disaffection over revenue-sharing from ticket sales (see NY Times article here).
How times have changed. Just think, if a merged TM/LN were to maintain control of the aforementioned 360 deals, then for these acts you can add Image Rights, Publishing and a host of other commercial elements which the new entity would control in addition to ticketing and promotion. Been there. Done that. Bought the T-Shirt – Exclusively from Ticketmaster.
The big question is: How long will it be before someone cries foul of all this? Surely there must be a few people left at the US Justice Department who remember the Pearl Jam surcharge fiasco back in 1994/95?
Actually, this is where the plot thickens – the nominated top staffers at new Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department have both come from the music industry (see article in Guardian here). This includes David Ogden, nominee for Deputy AG, and Tom Perrelli, nominated for Associate AG. Music Industry observers will recall that it was Pirrelli, “the RIAA’s favourite lawyer”, who was the man largely repsonsible for helping an entirely industry sue it’s own customers, and who now has the ISPs firmly in his sights. This is either a good or bad thing, depending how you stand on issues like Free Downloading, a Self-Regulated Internet, Personal Privacy and Data Protection.
So, if it’s now fair to say that Mr.Obama may not be the downloader’s best friend we though he might be (that is, unless the Right Wing Christians come to their defense) , where does he stand with regard to the live music-goer? A little more research into the personal history between Ticketmaster, President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and all his new pals at Justice is probably advisable for those with a keen interest in the live music business.
Anyway, no matter what the legislative or judicial histories of the key players, if the almost complete vertical integration and ownership of a major portion of the music industry doesn’t raise at least a few anti-competitive eyebrows somwhere in Washington (or Brussels), then we must all start wondering just what it WILL take. Perhaps when Ticketmaster extracts Joe Walsh’s DNA and starts the cloning of their own rock bands? A virtual monopoloy of primary ticketing is one thing; adding a good portion of the secondary market is another; but is it desireable or healthy for a single commercial entity to control so much of the way fans access their favourite artists in a live setting?
With not a small degree of apprehension, the music world watches and waits for the outcome of Ticketmaster’s negoatiations. And if all this has put you in the mood for some real ‘Ticketmonster’ bashing, then check out this post on Savvy Buyer’s blog here.
I think he says it all, really.
In other, slightly more modest news HMV announced last month that it has acquired a 50% stake in the UK’s Mama Group, owner of 11 live venues including the iconic Hammersmith Apollo in London. Read our post here.
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