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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

LiveNation/Ticketmaster Merger Raises Congressional Concerns

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 10:35 AM

click to enlarge Pissed Off: Bruce Springsteen
  • Pissed Off: Bruce Springsteen

The proposed merger between concert venue conglomerate Live Nation and ticket hub mecca Ticketmaster (announced last February) has already resulted in catcalls from The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, who wrote an open letter to his fans after Ticket Master upsold tickets for his "Workin' On a Dream" tour , basically accusing the nation's largest concert vendor of scalping. Now lawmakers are joining in the refrain.

As reported today by Rolling Stone, Reuters, and Billboard, the chair of the Senate antitrust subcommittee and 50 U.S. House representatives have sounded the alarm to the Justice Department about the deal, raising potentially grave concerns about the impact of the merger on the music industry.

According to Senator Herb Kohl, the merger is a monster whose creation would result in "an enormous, vertically integrated entertainment giant, which will control everything from artist management, concert promotion, concert venues, and merchandise sales to primary and secondary market ticket sales...The combined entities would be a company of unparalleled size and scope without equal in the market."

In other words, fair competition and competitive pricing for concert tickets could become a casualty if the deal goes through as planned. It's not immediately known what the impact will be in the Bay Area, where independent promoter Another Planet Entertainment and  AEG subsidiary Goldenvoice collectively control more local venues than LiveNation, but it stands to reason that LiveNation's 360 deals with big-ticket artists like Madonna, when combined with Ticketmaster's virtual stranglehold on ticket sales, could effectively squeeze the smaller players out of the market by attrition.

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Eric Arnold

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