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Live Nation executive spins Ticketmaster merger

Live Nation executive spins Ticketmaster merger
March 1, 2010

The Boston Globe has reported a senior Live Nation executive dismissing suggestions that the company's US$2.5 billion merger with Ticketmaster constituted any type of entertainment monopoly.

"How's it a monopoly?", Gerry Barad, Chief Operating Officer of Live Nation's global touring division, said during a discussion of the live music industry at Boston's Berklee College of Music, "one is a promoter, and one is a ticket company."

The Globe's Donna Goodison wrote there are many concert promoters that musical acts can choose to work with other than Live Nation, with, according to Barad, it being "the acts that dictate how much fans pay to see them.

"At the end of the day, the artist controls what the tickets are sold for," Barad said, noting that agents dictate the bottom-line guarantee of money wanted by their artists.

Irish rock band U2 could charge more money for its tickets but chooses not to and has no interest in the secondary ticket market, while Kiss goes for every dime it can squeeze out of a tour, Barad said.

"(Kiss front-man) Gene Simmons makes no bones about what he does'", he said, adding "if there's money to be made, he's making it."

The Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger gives the combined company more technology, increased capability to reach music fans and better ways to cross-market tours, according to Barad.

The U.S. Justice Department gave clearance to the union of the world's largest concert promoter and largest ticket seller last month on certain conditions intended to ensure competition in the ticket-selling market.

Ticketmaster must sell its Paciolan ticket-selling subsidiary to a Comcast Corp. subsidiary or another acceptable company, and it must license its ticketing software to Anschutz Entertainment Group, the nationâs second-largest concert promoter.

The combined company also agreed to a 10-year provision that prohibits it from retaliating against concert venues that sign ticket-selling contracts with competitors.

As for competition on the concert promotion front, Barad stressed that many shows that come to Boston don't have Live Nation's stamp on them, adding "there are more shows in this city that are not Don Law's shows", referring to the region's dominant concert promoter for decades who is now president of Live Nation New England, "there's always a competitor out there."

Live Nation owns or operates the Comcast Center in Mansfield, and the Bank of America Pavilion, House of Blues and Paradise Rock Club in Boston.

Its merger with Live Nation will not negatively impact the local club scene, according to Barad.

"(It's) business as usual", he said, "there's always someone who can own a club."

Barad"s thoughts on other music industry issues:

•  The value of concert tour sponsors: "sometimes itâs just the money, but I feel it's the measured media. They help to diffuse the costs and spend their own money."

•  Paperless concert tickets: "it's supposed to thwart scalping (but) you're never going to thwart it completely."

•  Discounting tickets: "I hate it. It cheapens the brand."

•  Dynamic ticket pricing: "What's happening is it's actually lowering the price of the worst seats. I call it 'Robin Hood scalping' - the rich can pay for the poor!"

15th January 2010 - SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE TICKETMASTER/LIVE NATION MERGER


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