Ticketmaster and Live Nation announce merger

The merger is valued at $2.5 billion and the surviving company will be called Live Nation Entertainment.

The deal is subject to the usual legal issues, including regulatory review, and there’s sure to be some pressure against it from the music industry and others who see this consolidation as a threat.

—Management: A lot of ego to fit into one space … Barry Diller, chairman of Ticketmaster Entertainment, will be chairman of the board with Michael Rapino, now CEO of Live Nation, as CEO and president, and Irving Azoff, now CEO of Ticketmaster, as executive chairman and CEO of Front Line.

—The name change: Dropping the Ticketmaster brand in favor of Live Nation could be the first step toward distancing the new company from the negative press surrounding the long-standing ticketing giant. A WSJ source said management wants to diminish the impression that the “company is out to gouge” consumers—as concert-goers have long complained about the service fees Ticketmaster tacks on to ticket prices.

It will be interesting to see if this passes the anti-trust test. I suspect they will have some trouble, but who knows.

The news is coming at a time when Ticketmaster is struggling with some bad press following the Springsteen ticket fiasco.

Bruce Springsteen has responded to his fans’ outcry following Ticketmaster’s problem-laden sale of his Working on a Dream tour tickets earlier this week. Countless fans reported technical malfunctions during the onsale, while others complained that Ticketmaster forwarded them to the company’s secondary ticket site, TicketsNow, even though seats were still available through Ticketmaster. The New Jersey Attorney General has also announced an investigation into the sale. Ticketmaster has since issued an apology to Springsteen, and vowed to make amends to confused fans.

“Last Monday, we were informed that Ticketmaster was redirecting your log-in requests for tickets at face value, to their secondary site TicketsNow, which specializes in up-selling tickets at above face value. They did this even when other seats remained available at face value. We condemn this practice,” Springsteen and his tour team said in a letter posted on Bruce’s official site. “We have asked this redirection from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow cease and desist immediately and Ticketmaster has agreed to do so in the future and has removed its unwanted material from their and our site.”

As for the merger, Bruce wasn’t very supportive of that idea.

Springsteen isn’t keen on the idea of a Live Nation Ticketmaster merge either. “A final point for now: the one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be Ticketmaster and Live Nation coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing,” Springsteen writes. “If you, like us, oppose that idea, you should make it known to your representatives.”