Live Nation/Ticketmaster: Let the spin begin

February 10, 2009


By mid-afternoon Tuesday, Live Nation and Ticketmaster finally had confirmed their merger as Live Nation Entertainment -- and the process of trying to portray this as a good thing for consumers instead of a disaster was well underway.

In an interview with the Associated Press, current Ticketmaster Chairman Barry Diller, who will also be chairman of the new company, was quick to say it will not raise ticket prices.

"Ticketmaster does not set prices. Live Nation does not set ticket prices. Artists set the prices," he said.

Of course, Ticketmaster DOES set the service charges, which can increase the price of a ticket by as much as 50 percent. And if Live Nation owns the venue, it DOES set the costs for an artists playing there, which DOES affect the price the artist decides to charge. (In other words, if an artist wants to charge $1 a seat, but the venue puts the cost of opening its doors at $5 per seat, the artist can't quite charge what he or she would really like to--unless of course they're willing to end up paying Live Nation to play.)

Diller also took aim at a new Canadian lawsuit essentially charging Ticketmaster with acting as the biggest, baddest ticket scalper on the block.

"They are just chasing cars down the road," he said. (Take that, Canada: You're nothing but the mangy dogs of North America!)

And Diller offered a little history on the merger:

"I have been trying and mostly consistently failing to put these companies together for many years now. Now is the time to do this."

So far, Wall Street does not seem to agree: Live Nation shares fell 42 cents, or 7.9 percent, to $4.87 in afternoon trading Tuesday, while Ticketmaster shares dipped 39 cents, or 5.9 percent,
to $6.18.