It would be unfair to only post concerns about the Ticketmaster/LiveNation Merger. Below is an excerpt from an article published in USA Today interviewing the man himself, Barry Diller.
USA TODAY: Live Nation is the country’s largest owner of arenas. Ticketmaster is the largest ticketing company and has deals with several stars. Why shouldn’t we be nervous about seeing them get together?
BARRY DILLER: Well, you can be nervous all you wish. It sounds awfully arrogant. It’s not meant that way. The thing is: These companies don’t compete with each other directly. We don’t own venues as Live Nation does. And Live Nation just entered the ticketing business but they don’t compete with us at this point. So, it’s vertical, and there’s nothing legally wrong with vertical.
The issue is: Will consumers pay more? No. I actually think that what the combination will do will allow us to develop what was really lacking. The big players are getting rather old. The Rolling Stones are out there now. What we don’t have is a great development process for new talent.
The recorded music business now is, in a sense, the loss leader for live entertainment. And the truth is that they should have symbiotic relationships, and I think we can bring that. But it’s under review at the Justice Department and we’ll know whenever they get around to dealing with this.
USA TODAY: Fleetwood Mac will be playing in St. Louis in a couple weeks. You can get a midpriced ticket for about $77, then there’s a convenience charge of $9.70, a building facility charge of $2.50, and for the privilege of printing out my own ticket at home, I’ve got to pay you $2.50.
BARRY DILLER: I would tell you what a great privilege it is for you to be able to do that and how much infrastructure we had to create and desks we had to make in order for you to do that. But here’s the thing: Ticketmaster is the definition of an unloved company. Many more people are denied tickets than we are able to give them because there are only so many seats in the house.
The problem with the ticketing business is: It’s the essence of non-transparency. And the reason is that everybody has an ax to grind. Artists do not want consumers to know that they have a take of different parts of the ticketing package. People who own venues want to put in service charges. So I think there’s going to be legislation which is going to force transparency, and I think that would be great for everybody.
Going back to the my previous post, Diller clearly leaves many concerns unresolved. While he asserts that Live Nation and Ticketmaster never directly competed with each other, he does not remove my fear of an even larger monopoly being created with the combination of two super powers in one industry.
Diller does state that there will be no increase in pricing, and that the “combination will allow [them] to create what is really lacking.” One can hope that means lower service charges, but with a track record like Ticketmaster’s, I won’t hold my breath.