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The Day the Music Biz Changed: Parsing the Live Nation / Ticketmaster Press Release

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It's almost done. As first reported last week by the Wall Street Journal, a plan to merge industry giants Ticketmaster and Live Nation was announced this morning. And if it goes through, don't expect the music business to ever be the same again.

Billboard's Ray Waddell sums up the size of this new corporate powerhouse:
“The merger would create the most powerful and influential entity the music business has ever known. As manager, ticketer, venue operator, merchandiser and more, this giant would tap into revenues, if not outright control them, from virtually every source in the chain: live performance, merchandising, ticketing, content, sponsorships, licensing and digital."

Antitrust issues certainly loom. In this Times story by Dawn C. Chmielewski, one source is quoted as estimating that “the combined company would control ticketing rights for 80% of the concert halls, amphitheaters, sports arenas and other venues where live events are staged."

What's more, with Ticketmaster's recent alignment with management firm Front Line Entertainment, the new company would have direct access to a number of major acts that would be filling the venues it owns, including the Eagles, Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus, among others.

Live Nation has already positioned itself as sort of an one-stop shop, with advances into merchandise and digital downloads, giving the new Live Nation Entertainment a hand in virtually every aspect of the music business. The past week has seen a lot of speculation as to how this may or may not affect the consumer (Pop & Hiss has chimed in here), and this morning's press release offers some hints.

Here's a look at what Live Nation Entertainment says, and what it may mean for the consumer.

The press release:
Improve Access and Transparency: By uniting an artist, promoter and ticketing company under a combined banner, the new entity will be positioned to address the challenges of serving fans better at the point of the initial ticket sale with more options and better access.

What this probably means:
We can charge you more, and give the best seats to those who buy VIP packages that include meet-and-greets with the band or autograph opportunities. And if you don't spring for the VIP package, enjoy the view from the back of the concert hall.

The key here is the last part of the sentence: “address the challenges of serving fans better at the point of the initial ticket sale with more options and better access." Expect a ramping-up of what's been a distressing trend in the music biz. Interested in seeing Fall Out Boy? Great -- perhaps you might want to spend more for one of two VIP packages available (more options!), which promise early entry and access to the band, including an autographed lithograph. The full VIP package goes for $150. The early entry VIP goes for $125.

The latter doesn't include a punk rockin' meet and greet, but you're in the venue and in position before the pesky rock 'n' roll riff-raff with their $40 general admission tickets. And Fall Out Boy is on the low end of the spectrum; these VIP packages are pushing $500 for Britney Spears' Staples Center date.

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