Thursday, February 05, 2009

President Obama -- This (Live Nation/Ticketmaster) Is a Test of Your Emergency Anti-Trust System

The recent news about the possible merger of two new music industry powerhouses -- concert promoters Live Nation with Ticketmaster (the combined entity memorably would be called "Live Nation Ticketmaster") -- was downright high decibal and ear-splitting. Both companies champion those revolutionary so-called multi-million mega "360 deals" with many of the top musical artists. That means that, in this digital era of ever-declining CD sales and revenues for record companies (and royalties to artists), these two industry behemoths instead directly pay some of the industry's most popular artists (such as Madonna) tens of millions of dollars in exchange for a piece of all revenues generated by that artist -- music sales, concert tours, merchandise, etc.

But, of course, these individual companies compete directly now in the concert ticketing business, and this is generally good news for concert-goers who loathe all of the relevant ticketing fees and surcharges. Obviously, as the two become one, the incentive to lower overall ticket prices fades ...

President Obama's anti-trust team will certainly scrutinize this attempted union more closely than the previous administration (Bush notably was not particularly a music fan). And, the merger may be an especially tough sell in these crazy times where pain at the pump is everywhere. Even the Boss himself -- Bruce Springsteen -- was quick to pan the proposed merger. BRUCE! -- ever the populist -- hasn't exactly been a Ticketmaster fan for quite some time, longing for those "Glory Days" of old where a $50 concert ticket truly meant $50 ...

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