“Bad Moon Rising.” That’s the tune Chicago music journalists Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis opened their Sound Opinions public radio show/podcast with in regard to the Department of Justice’s recent approval of Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s merger to form the far-reaching Live Nation Entertainment.
Jim and Greg believe the merger will change the concert industry forever because Live Nation Entertainment would control artists, venues, merchandise, and ticket sales, thus making it incredibly difficult for independent promoters to compete and (theoretically) keep prices down. Live Nation recently reported a $64.9 million operating loss for the final quarter of 2009, down from $323 million a year earlier. They’ve also announced plans to begin selling tickets in some 500 Wal-Mart outlets, a chain known for chopping prices.
They pointed out that this was the Obama administration’s first antitrust case, one to which the administration happens to have direct connections. For example, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has served on Ticketmaster’s board of directors. And artists agent Ari Emanuel, brother of Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, sits on Live Nation’s board.
Greg Kot recently interviewed Jerry Mickleson, co-founder of Chicago-based Jam Productions, about the merger. Mickleson thinks the DOJ’s decision contradicts the Supreme Court’s 1948 antitrust decision against Paramount Pictures.
Reports in Rolling Stone, MTV News, and the Los Angeles Times paint a consensus opinion concerning the extent to which the merger will transform the music industry and affect every fan, artist, agent, manager, and promoter in the bargain. The likes of this kind of merger has never been seen before.
Live Nation Entertainment agreed to 10 years of federal monitoring to prevent anti-competitive hijinks.
How do you feel about this concert conglomerate? Do you think the DOJ’s decision was just? Let your voice be heard in the comments section.