Prior to its decision to marry Live Nation, Ticketmaster tried to crush the rival ticket agency by striking deals with several large regional ticket resellers. The Wall Street Journal reports that "Project Showtime" involved buying six of the largest ticket brokers, at up to $25 million each, and then funneling hundreds of prime seats to them. Ticketmaster would take more than two-thirds of the profits and split them with the bands.
All of which sounds like a win-win-win-lose proposition for fans.
There was even a test run in the fall of 2007, according to numerous people with knowledge of the matter. Up to 500 of the best seats to each of about 20 concerts by Van Halen, the veteran hard-rock band managed by Mr. Azoff, were pulled from the Ticketmaster system and passed directly to the brokers being considered for acquisition.
The brokers kept 30% of the marked-up sale price for themselves, and the remaining 70% was divided among Ticketmaster, the band and its handlers. The band netted an extra $1 million, at least, from the arrangement, according to people familiar with the matter. A spokesman said the band wasn't available for comment.