Ticketmaster, Live Nation Consider Merging, Destroying Concertgoing Forever

The two companies most responsible for making your next live entertainment experience a financial disaster may announce a merger as early as this week, reports Reuters and the WSJ. If it goes ahead, the new company will apparently call itself Live Nation Ticketmaster, not “Satan’s Boxoffice” as one might expect. The merger will raise antitrust issues, but if Sirius/XM has taught us anything, it’s that those issues can be ignored at the expense of consumer choice and pricing.

“Ticketmaster, Live Nation in merger talks” [Reuters] (Thanks to WeSeed!)
(Photo: Anirudh Koul)

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  1. squatchie44 says:

    Really? Does it not suck enough already?

  2. Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

    I hope Eddie Vedder’s head doesn’t explode.

    • stevejust says:

      @Ash78: Ticketmaster is evil. I wish Eddie Vedder’s lawsuit would’ve won and snipped this whole thing in the bud back in the day.

      Look, they screw over us big time with those $47.50 tickets that wind up costing $63.80. But what about the artist? The artist is supposed to get a percentage of the cost of the ticket, but they only get a percentage of the $47.50 price, not the $63.80 price with the “convenience charge at $10.55, the facility charge at $3.50, sometimes there’s parking fees, taxes, etc.,. etc.,. And don’t get me started on delivery fees. This is the internet era, all tickets should be printable with those scatter-upc codes airline boarding passes use to prevent counterfeits. So all of those additional service charges and fees is ticketmaster making money that really the artist should be sharing in. But they take them out of the alleged ticket price so that they can pocket all the extra $$$. Convenience fee my nanerpuss.

      And IAC InterativeCorp, which owns Ticketmaster also runs Hotels.com. And Hotels.com charges people taxes based on what the customer pays Hotels.com for the room. But then Hotels.com pays the city occupancy tax based on what Hotels.com paid for the room. They charge customers taxes they then stick it in their pocket. They even set aside money identified in their 10K reports each year for if they ever got caught doing this. Only a handful of cities are actually suing them for this, and so for all the cities that aren’t, they collected taxes for and never remitted.

      IAC InteractiveCorp is one of the most evil companies ever.

      And I tried to get Lewis Black tickets for his performance in Beverly Hills on Valentine’s Day, but Tickmaster says they don’t have any available, but their partner site TicketsNow sure does for 4x the face value of the ticket. Whatever happened to scalping being illegal?

      • FightOnTrojans says:

        @stevejust: A Representative from New Jersey is calling for an investigation into just that sort of “transaction” when Ticketmaster did that to the fine people of New Jersey trying to buy Springsteen tickets. Ticketmaster should have known better than to f*ck with Jersey girls and boys trying to buy tickets for Bruce. [www.bloomberg.com]

        They also did that to people trying to buy tickets to a Christmas concert put on by a radio station here in L.A. (KROQ) that donates the proceeds to charity. Seriously, WTF?

      • armour says:

        @stevejust: Just as a note Data Matrix symbols (or scatered bar code as you called it ) is not to prevent counterfiting it is to hold more data. It can hold 3,116 characters from the entire ASCII character set (with extensions).

    • t0ph says:

      @Ash78: Back when Pearl Jam were fighting ticketmaster, they were selling their tickets exclusively thru local radio stations, no mark up. As a result, I got to see them at the Paramount Theatre in MSG for $20.50!

      That would never happen nowadays. Especially from PJ – Anyone see that “re-release” of TEN? How much $$$ do those guys need? /off topic rant

      • bsbeamer says:

        @PerpetualBoredom:

        That is actually Sony’s doing… PJ is trying to capitalize on it

        Anyone remember their FT&T attempts back in 1996? They tried to do the right thing.

        I tried to get Phish tickets last week and after 2 hours of server errors, I was directed to pages of resellers and stubhub ads – cheapest ticket was 4x the base price for lawn, seats were 10x+

  3. razremytuxbuddy says:

    This article just disappeared from the Consumerist front page. What happened?

  4. nicemarmot617 says:

    I heard about this last night. I don’t think the Obama administration will allow it. Usually I couldn’t care less which companies merge, but Ticketmaster is already the evillest monopoly in the country.

    • cmdrsass says:

      @nicemarmot617: Guess again, Ticketmaster executives contributed to the Obama campaign in a big way. He won’t touch them.

    • Anonymous says:

      @nicemarmot617: Are you suggesting that the savior of mankind could be influenced by something as trivial as money? That can’t be so.

      Ticketmaster is the reason I don’t go to concerts. That and the lack of talent in music these days. Hell, Ticketmaster won’t even do anything about the systematic scalping and go right on selling every single ticket to these idiots like stubhub.

      • dragonfire81 says:

        @CaptainCynic: Not surprisingly, I had Darth Vader’s theme in my head when I was reading the story.

        Looks like it might be a loooong time before I go to a major concert again.

      • mariospants says:

        @CaptainCynic: Same here. I haven’t paid for a concert ticket in something like 5 years+ for those same reasons. Thankfully I have friends who get tickets for free… although most concerts typically don’t live up to expectations.

    • evilhapposai says:

      @nicemarmot617: Sadly I think it is true. Obama probably will not let this go through as he seems to be all about the issues concerning entertainment, media coverage, and other useless topics such as this.

      Just look at inauguration night. Obama attended all kinds of celebrity and media strewn balls. But he did not even acknowledge the Salute to Heroes Ball honoring the Medal of Honor recipients, American Legion, and disabled veterans. The ball has been held every inauguration since since 1953 and NO president has ever missed this event.

      Sick of paying too much for concert tickets? Stop going. Eventually the price will come down when no one is buying them and Live Nation/Ticketmaster is on the verge of bankruptcy.

      • savvy9999 says:

        @evilhapposai: Get a grip on reality. Obama didn’t go to the Salute to Heroes Ball because the Secret Service couldn’t secure the 18 floor hotel the Ball was in, not because Obama’s a troop-hating commie. The American Legion itself agreed and wasn’t pissed. Why are you? Your own Medal of Honor got a little bit tarnished from your tears on Inauguration night? [urbanlegends.about.com]

        And WTF does any of this have to do with TicketBastard?

  5. Wit says:

    Nooooooooooooooooo!

    This should not be allowed.

  6. thebluepill says:

    Well.. I will go from catching 4 concerts a year to 2.. I just cant see paying even more for a ticket.. If you can even get a decent seat, 2 minutes after they tickets “go on sale”..

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @thebluepill: Hopefully they put a restriction on increasing or adding fees that lasts a year or two. Yes, it would be better if they don’t merge, but we all know the merger is going to happen. The best we can hope for is a few temporary restrictions.

  7. Russ Savage says:

    if you work for ticketmaster.. kill yourself.

    i just thank god that almost all the shows I want to see are at small local venues. because i refuse to give any money to those ridiculous crooks.

    • Etoiles says:

      @Russ Savage: Sadly enough, there are a fair number of less-big acts at smaller venues that you have to use TicketMaster for, too (I am thinking of some Great Big Sea and Jonathan Coulton gigs I have attended in the last three years). They’re hardly major-football-stadium levels of performer… which in a sense makes it worse, because some fees are flat, and not percentages, so you end up paying at least twice the ticket value.

      I like to support performers live and in person but TicketMaster makes it not worthwhile.

      • Russ Savage says:

        @Etoiles: totally agree.. even that ticket web is in bed with ticket master for some shows.. anyway, I rarely buy online, I almost don’t even consider it a viable option considering the price increase.. going to the venue becomes an errand, but it’s well worth it.

  8. semanticantics says:

    What about TicketMaster getting investigated in NJ for it’s TicketsNow (or whatever the hell it’s called) Super Scalp-A-Thon?

    • ophmarketing says:

      @semanticantics: You mean the Ticketmaster “subsidary” that, yesterday, when I couldn’t get Springsteen tickets at twenty seconds past 10:00 am, already–as luck would have it–had a whole block of 100 level seats to offer me at the low low price of over $900 each?

      Yeah, nothing to see here. Move along.

      • seraphilistic says:

        @ophmarketing:

        Live Nation will still have competition if they merge with Ticketmaster, at least when it comes to booking and promoting concerts. They’re called AEG, and they are much less evil**, even though they are forced to work with Ticketmaster as well.

        My only concern is how badly LiveNationTicketMaster will try to squeeze AEG for more of their part of the ticket price if this merger does go through. It would be awesome if AEG bought or supported a company like Brown Paper Tickets instead…

        On a semi-related note, any time an artist starts apologizing for high ticket prices and blaming it on the managers/promoters/venues/etc, know that they are talking out of their rears to hide the fact that they have a set, expected, usually very expensive guarantee for different areas of a tour (bigger for LA or NYC, etc, less for smaller cities). The promoter then doesn’t have much of a choice then but to set the ticket price based on how many tickets he thinks he can sell times whatever amount he can charge, be reasonable/affordable, and still have a chance of making a profit. Doing anything else would be a poor business decision.

        **FYI: I work for AEG Live, the concert promotions arm of AEG.

        OPH, message me. (Sorry this is so long.)

  9. kateblack says:

    As separate entities, they were revolting enough to keep me from attending big concerts. We went to 1 a year, if that.

    I’ll stick to shows where I can buy a ticket at the door. It’s a much better deal — smaller, more intimate shows & no outrageous fees.

    • varro says:

      @kateblack: Agreed…paying $6 at the door for 3 bands this weekend was pretty good.

      With you being able to sample bands on facebook, myspace, etc., there’s no excuse for not going to a club show – buy tickets at the door and a CD from the band at the club, and screw *both* Ticketmaster and RIAA!

  10. MPHinPgh says:

    Whatever…I quit going to concerts years ago. It’s just not worth the bother. With the way Ticketmaster jacks everyone off, it doesn’t look like I’ll change my mind anytime soon.

    Have fun, Live Nation Ticketmaster. Suck that blood, you know you love it!

    • ShikhaCadimillac says:

      @MPHinPgh:

      Actually if they jacked everyone off, then the fees might not seem so outrageous, but as it is, what they are really doing is giving it to everyone in the backside without any friction reducing salves.

  11. Erin Haliburton says:

    Ugh. PLEASE break up this monopoly. It’s ridiculous.

  12. Chongo says:

    I do alot of websites for companies that have events… spread the word about BROWN PAPER TICKETS. Awesome fair trade ticket company.

    A good case in point: We setup ticketweb (owned by ticketmaster) for a local theater company and after the $800 setup fee, the tickets themselves were only about 8-12 bucks…. but with fee’s? 25 or so. Hardley had a single web sale.

  13. thezone says:

    Hopefully the Obama administration will not allow this to go through. We have too many near monopolies in this country. Competition cannot exist when one company owns so much of the business. Making them larger will only hurt the negligible consumer choice we currently have.

  14. TheTick says:

    This was a HUGE advantage to working next door to the main place I go see sporting events/concerts. Walk over at lunch, buy tickets, no crazed fees.

  15. kaptainkk says:

    I also quit going to concerts and any other venues that required the purchase of tickets through TM. They are just a blood sucking monopoly and refuse to give them any of my money.

  16. ThickSkinned says:

    Which part of monopoly do these nitwits not understand?

  17. working class Zer0 says:

    I think they should call it Masternation….it has a ring to it. I can’t help to wonder how big the economic impact will be on concerts this year. Tickets prices are outrageous now, how much will they increase with this merger?

  18. Desk_hack says:

    Doesn’t this seem like it’s happening awfully quickly? Live Nation started selling tickets what, a year ago? And it was to specifically get away from TM. Are they already doing so badly in such a short amount of time that this is really a consideration?

    “Satan’s Boxoffice” was very funny. Well done, Chris.

  19. cf27 says:

    Before doing the merger, they will need to request clearance from either the FTC or the Department of Justice. As part of that, there will be a public comment period to allow YOU to comment on whether they should allow the merger to go through. A good argument to make is that the merger will increase prices or decrease selection, both of which are generally thought to be anticompetitive, or that it will create monopolies in geographic ticket markets. A bad arguments is that either party is just bad and should be punished.

    If you don’t want it to go through, write a well-written (be sure to proofread), well-thought-out argument about why it shouldn’t. The FTC has said that they find public comments very valuable.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Live Nation is affiliated with… Surprise! Clear Channel. Clear Channel and Government are hand in hand. The merger will happen. I hate everything about both companies. I have to work with them for work and even their employees are douche bags. The cost of the ticket have so many factors. But service charges that cost as much as the ticket…. No thanks.
    Also stub hub???? Where all of those “SOLD OUT” tickets tend to go.
    Quote directly from the site :
    “Company partners include the New York Yankees, Chicago Bears and the University of Southern California along with nearly 60 teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA complemented with music artists like Madonna and companies such as ESPN and American Express.”

    Looks like you’re just screwed.

  21. Cattivella says:

    I hate ticketmaster. The fees are absolutely ridiculous. I wanted to buy a pair of tickets the other day, but the fees turned reasonably priced tickets into way out of my budget. $18 in extra fees PER TICKET. That’s bullshit.

    Also bullshit? When I wanted to buy tickets for a big show and the tickets sold out in 10 seconds but immediately after the site told me too bad there were tickets available on Ticketfast. There’s no way someone was able to buy those tickets and put up a ticketfast sale in that amount of time without something shady going on.

    Ticketmaster needs MORE competition. Not less.

    • UnicornMaster says:

      @Cattivella: You know, it’s actually not much better over at LiveNation. I got $48 tickets and a $12 per ticket service fee. That’s 25%! They’re all pretty evil.

    • mariospants says:

      @Cattivella: Just wait until they start charging you for that second piece of luggage… oh wait, now I’m getting ticketmaster confused with US Airlines.

  22. veronykah says:

    Ridiculous. As it is now I NEVER buy tickets for shows that Ticketmaster is selling, I just flatly refuse their “convenience fees” when the convenience involves me printing out my own tickets then standing in line when I get to the venue anyway.
    I, for some stupid reason, thought live nation was better about this. Valentines day there is a concert I would LOVE to see, however, the tickets are $20 with a $8 “Livenation Ticket Fee”.
    I absolutely refuse to pay that. I just hate that fact that a lot of these places won’t allow you to go to the VENUE and buy the tickets. I would rather inconvenience myself and go pick them up than pay LiveNation to print them at my house.

  23. sn1per420 says:

    if Sirius/XM has taught us anything, it’s that those issues can be ignored at the expense of consumer choice and pricing.

    I don’t know about this, I thought the XM/Sirius merger wasn’t too big of a deal due to the fact that there are free AM/FM radio stations everywhere in the US. Ticketmaster/Live Nation, on the other hand, would make a pretty serious monopoly, because there aren’t any well-established ticket sellers who are free/reasonably priced.

  24. PhiTauBill says:

    Sirius/XM is a COMPLETELY different story. Both companies were losing money, and the survival of combined entity is in considerable doubt (despite their consolidation savings and raised prices).

    TicketBastard is pure evil and must be destroyed.

  25. TheGuinnessTooth says:

    Sure this sucks, everybody hates both these customers, but lets not ignore the fact that most of the best bands out there today don’t play at ticketmaster/ live nation venues. Just this weekend I bought Sebastien Tellier and MONO tickets, and neither one were through TM/LN.

  26. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i’m still having confusion over the circus tickets i bought the other day. ticketmaster being the only option i had to go through with it because you don’t promise your friend’s kid a trip to the circus and then renege because of the evil ticketing practices.

    i expected the per ticket convenience fee and i wasn’t entirely surprised by the per order processing fee – but the $2.50 charge to print my tickets on my printer with the ink i paid for as opposed to picking them up at will call for free – kind of a shocker

    maybe this new conglomeration will over extend itself by raising the fees [no reason to keep them low if there's no competition] and end up with no concerts or events at all to ticket because no one will ever be able to afford to go.

  27. Todd Levy says:

    Oh man. What a shame. Can’t imagine anything good for consumers could come out of this merger.

    I was so thankful for the prospect of competition in the online ticketing space — despite the fact that Live Nation totally botched the recent Phish Summer Tour onsale and actually made me long for Ticketmaster.

    You can read my open letter to Nathan Hubbard, Live Nation Ticketing CEO about the debacle here: [jamtopia.com]

    It took a long time to write, and now I feel like I may have to write another…

    Argh.

    TL

  28. quail says:

    People complain and yet they don’t vote with their pocketbook. Hate them so much? Then don’t go to the concerts that require you to use them. Enough people do that and you’ll see prices drop. On top of that, don’t buy scalped tickets or any tickets from a second stringer.

  29. ras_d says:

    TM and LN have ruined concert-going for me

  30. Baccus83 says:

    Who’s ready for the $50 convenience fee?

  31. medic78 says:

    If my e-mail inbox is any indication, they have already begun merging.

    I have NEVER had ANY dealing with LiveNation, but I have bought a few tickets from ticketmaster (because there was no other option). Starting a few days ago, I began to receive a ton of spam from LiveNation. I wonder if I can do something about that since I never told Ticketmaster that they could share my info, and they aren’t officially merged yet.

    Anyone have any ideas?

  32. gregcuc says:

    I, for one, welcome our new ticketing overlords. I can only wonder what Satan’s Box office will bring…

  33. kev313 says:

    Every time I read an article like this, I get more infuriated about the ongoing FTC action against Whole Foods…apparently buying Wild Oats makes them a monopoly in the “upscale natural supermarket” segment, but controlling 99% of the distribution of satellite radio or entertainment venues is no big deal…guess it just depends on who you pay off…

  34. HarcourtArmstrong says:

    I thought Live Nation and Ticketmaster were already the same company.

  35. chrisjames says:

    Why shouldn’t we let this go through? Once their oily, bloated, festering mass smothers the country, heads will turn and we’ll get the anti-trust chainsaw a-going. Chop up the Beast into a few stinky pieces and let them snap and hiss at each other and BAM! return to normalcy.

    I always figure the best way to handle anti-trust issues is to let the monopoly go ahead and pop its head up… so you can lop it off no muss no fuss.

  36. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    The Boss has weighed in on this issue, too:
    [www.billboard.com]

    Its refreshing to think that some artists actually feel the same way as us commonfolk, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think things won’t change. Its not Springsteen’s fault. He tried, but Ticketmaster and Live Nation are (both) so big and so influential, that even a music GIANT like Springsteen won’t change anything.

    Even Pearl Jam, at arguably its peak of popularity, lost to Ticketmaster.

  37. martyz says:

    I was going to an event in DC where the tickets were $12 — the Ticketmaster inconvenience charge was $8.

    $8 on a $12 ticket. I spoke to about 15-20 people – not a single person gave a dime to Ticketmaster — everyone bought at the door.

  38. John Guerrero says:

    I only hope that this will spur a grassroots effort to sell and distribute tickets outside of established TM infrastructure. I’ll make an effort to go to independent shows which will benefit the artist/athletes and keep the prices low.

  39. ageshin says:

    Well the government should stop this as it is against the law to form a monapoly. er…isn’t.

  40. Brian Westermann says:

    Man if this happens, it will even effect the music I listen to, which is Heavy Metal and Goth Industrial.

    This cannot be allowed. I hope our new political administration will prevent Ticketbastard from merging with Live Nay-shun.

  41. zyodei says:

    I haven’t bought a ticket from TicketMaster since high school. Neither bought a mainstream MPAA related CD.

    That’s 10 years. I’m your target demographic.

    Suck it, assholes.

  42. Mary Marsala with Fries says:

    Allowing the ONLY two competitors in a field to merge is, like, peeing on the corpse of antitrust law.

    Granted, it’s been done at least once, but why pee on an already-wet corpse?

    Right?

  43. Todd Levy says:

    Chris -

    I loved your Satan’s Box Office line so much I used it as the headline for my post about Live Nation Ticketmaster where I’ve got an ongoing commentary and tons of links about the nightmare (er, merger).

    Hope you take it as the compliment it’s meant to be!

    Todd
    [jamtopia.com]