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OMG! Ticketmaster head Irving Azoff throws down a Twitter gauntlet at Billboard journalist

August 4, 2010 |  4:37 pm

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Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino has already accused the press of "scaring" artists from touring. Now the company's executive chairman, Irving Azoff, has gone so far as to call Billboard journalist-commentator Glenn Peoples a "jerk." 

Azoff's Twitter went live Tuesday. A spokesperson confirmed that the Twitter feed is indeed run by the famed industry executive and artist manager (the Eagles, Christina Aguilera and more). One of his first tweets, however, drew some criticism. Wrote Azoff: "So if you want ticket prices to go down stop stealing music."

Many, including Perez Hilton, took the comment as a direct attack on music consumers, implying that the tweet was instantly putting a Big Giant Corporation in one corner, and recession-addled fans in another. Writing his morning column on industry news on Billboard.biz, Peoples contended that "Twitter is hardly the place to reveal a company’s strategy for dealing with the competing forces of rising artist demands and consumer demands for cheaper tickets, but blaming high ticket prices solely on piracy is disappointing."

The IRL Azoff was none too pleased, typing to Peoples that "u r a jerk." Azoff went on to note that his tweet was simply a "personal overview," and not a business strategy, and should not be critiqued as such. Later, Azoff even made light of his comment, noting that Wall Street Journal reporter Ethan Smith had said the word "jerk" was "inappropriate," and Azoff added that it's only "rock and roll." 

Peoples had no further comment on the matter, but you can follow him on Twitter at @billboardglenn, should the war of tweets escalate -- or if you want to stay abreast of industry news.

Since Live Nation and Ticketmaster joined forces, the new company has spoken a lot about transparency, even going before Wall Street investors to discuss its business plans for the remainder of 2010. "The press," Rapino recently told Wall Street, has "scared about every artist" out of touring in the fourth quarter. 

A number of major tours have struggled in 2010, including the refurbished Lilith Fair, and once-can't-miss artists such as the Jonas Brothers have been canceling dates, as outlined in this front-page story in The Times. Amid rampant reports of a down market, Rapino said, "a lot of artists who had planned to tour are now saying they're going to sit it out."

So, in this tough industry climate, and with the media, fans and analysts parsing every piece of information that anyone from Live Nation disseminates, perhaps lessons can be gleaned from the joyously positive, always uncensored and seemingly fan-first Kanye West:

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-- Todd Martens

Photo credits: All screen shots from Twitter. @kanyewest and @irvingazoff

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