The merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, both locally based companies, could be announced as early as this week. For the concert business, this would be an earth-shaking event. From the WSJ:
The combined company would be called Live Nation Ticketmaster, and would merge the world's biggest concert promoter with the world's dominant ticketing and artist-management company. The resulting firm would be able to manage everything from recorded music to ticket sales and tour sponsorship. It could package artists in new ways, for example, allowing corporations such as a cellphone provider to sponsor a concert tour and to sell an exclusive download of a song. Because it would be so vertically integrated, the new company would also be able to muscle out competing concert promoters and have more power to dictate ticket prices to consumers.
It comes at a time when Live Nation, which was spun off from Clear Channel, has gotten into the online ticketing business. It also comes as Ticketmaster is making noises about getting into concert promotion (the company acquired Irving Azoff's Front Line Management firm last fall). Both companies have strong ties to hundreds of big-name artists, so a Ticketmaster-Live Nation combo would pretty much control all aspects of the concert business. If the deal gets done, there will doubtless be a bunch of antitrust considerations (most every other music-related company probably has their attorneys on the phone this morning).