The Merging Music Monster

What do you get when you combine the nation’s largest ticketing company with the nation’s biggest concert promoter? Answer: the  monster of the music industry and a town of unhappy music lovers.

In February of 2009, Live Nation and Ticketmaster began negotiations for a merger between the two giants, essentially creating one monster company called Live Nation Entertainment that combined their ticketing, marketing, data centers and back-offices, according to their press release.

“The companies will be combined in a tax-free, all-stock merger of equals with a combined enterprise of $2.5 billion…Live Nation and Ticketmaster shareholders will each own approximately 50 percent of the combined company,” the press release read.

On January 25, 2010 the United States Department of Justice finally approved the merger between the two competitors, thus creating a huge monopoly being forced upon the music industry, concert-goers and music fans.

“The merger, as originally proposed, would have substantially lessened competition for primary ticketing in the United States, resulting in higher prices and less innovation for consumers,” as read in the Department of Justice’s announcement.

With Athens being the music town that it is, this monster merger may cause problems for many of the local music halls and music lovers.

“It’s never a good thing when there’s a monopoly in any field. When there’s no competition, they can do whatever they want,” said Savannah Weeks, a 21-year-old Music Business student at the University of Georgia.

The central argument for the opposers  of the merger stand by the fact that concert-goers have no choice but to pay the prices and fees set forth by Live Nation Entertainment to see their favorite musicians. They have no legitimate alternative to turn to if they are unsatisfied with or overcharged by this ticketing conglomerate.

“I wanted to go to the Coldplay show this summer, but the tickets were $30, a $20 parking fee, a $13 convenience charge and there may have been another venue fee. I just couldn’t afford it,” said Weeks. “I feel like the real victim is unfortunately the music fan.”

Music venues in Athens have opted to use other ways of selling tickets online, so they don’t support the monopoly at hand.

“ We don’t use Ticketmaster for this exact reason,” said Lewis Brown, senior music business major and employee of New Earth Music Hall on West Dougherty Street. “We want to help out the little guy, not the monster who is eating up all our money.”

Lexi Irvin, senior music business major and employee of the 40 Watt on West Washington Street agrees.

“ The merger is really putting a damper on the shows that I’m able to go see,” said Irvin. “It’s not really affecting the small local shows here, but the big name shows in Atlanta is where prices really increase and the customer can see their money being practically stolen from them, service fee after service fee.”

Many customers were not even aware of the merger or where their money was going, but did notice the price increase.

“I had no idea this was going on,” said Eliza McArthur, senior sociology major. “ I just bought a My Morning Jacket ticket from Ticketmaster and their Website said nothing about this. But my ticket price did rise from $45 to $60 after all the charges had been added on to it. It’s ridiculous.”

For now, music fans and lovers alike will have to join the monster if they can’t beat him.

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