After reading a terrific story on Ticketmaster's merging with Live Nation I became fearful, yet thankful. The marriage of the two companies is an abhorrent monopoly. Praise Jesus I—and most End Hits readers—don't go to a lot of big stadium shows. But a lot of people do, and they're going to take it up the ass with two dicks now.
The gist of the business angle:
Live Nation Entertainment, as the new company is called, is a colossus unlike anything the industry has ever seen. Ticketmaster has roughly 70 percent of the concert ticket market in the United States and is known for the ever-rising cost of an assortment of tacked-on fees, now as much a part of concert experience as sticky floors and shoving. Live Nation, led by Michael Rapino, 43, is a roll-up of regional promoters that now runs more than 22,000 events a year, many in the 127 amphitheaters and clubs that the company owns or operates. Total annual attendance is more than 50 million.
Then there’s the company’s not-so-secret weapon, Front Line Management, a consortium of artist management agencies that Mr. Azoff started cobbling together in 2005. Front Line shepherds the careers of roughly 200 marquee solo artists and bands, ranging in age from Miley Cyrus to Willie Nelson and including Van Halen, Neil Diamond, Christina Aguilera, Kid Rock, Maroon 5 and the Kings of Leon.
To say this new conglomerate has inspired fear in the live-concert business doesn’t capture the extent of the quaking. A coalition of consumer groups and independent promoters lobbied hard against the merger, warning that Live Nation Entertainment could quietly threaten venue owners by hinting that if they dropped Ticketmaster, they would have a hard time booking Live Nation tours or Front Line talent. The coalition also said the new company would have something close to a monopolist’s hand when it came to setting ticket fees.
The massive article by David Segal goes on to give a history of concert booking and promotion. At the center of it all is Irving Azoff, King of the Dicks. And while Azoff is an inscrutable bastard, he's quite a colorful character. Despite the horrible news for music lovers, it's one great read.
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