Ticketmaster, Live Nation make case for merger
Irving Azoff and Michael Rapino talk up advantages of a union of the firms.
One of the biggest challenges facing the architects of the Ticketmaster- Live Nation merger is making a case that the union can benefit fans and not just the companies' stockholders.
They'll have to argue that point to the Justice Department, which on Wednesday announced it will conduct an investigation to make sure the merger of the world's largest ticket seller with the biggest concert promoter and facility operator doesn't result in an illegal monopoly of the concert business. But they'll also have to persuade those ticket-buying fans to whom Ticketmaster represents one of the evils of the modern world.
"Calling the new company Live Nation Entertainment is a big statement," Live Nation Chief Executive and President Michael Rapino said in an interview Tuesday. "Let's make sure we send a strong message from the first investor call. . . . There's no way around it, we've got to build a better mousetrap to compete in today's times."
Ticketmaster Entertainment Chief Executive Irving Azoff draws a comparison with efforts by the federal government to address the national economic crisis.
"The government is saying, 'If our economic stimulus plan works, this is what will happen,' " he said in a separate interview. "If our plan happens . . . it can, should and will result in lower ticket prices in the primary market. If that plan fails to come to pass, artists, consumers and the industry will not be the better for it."
Azoff, whose Front Line Management stable of superstar acts is part of the new company, goes so far as to say that the worst thing that can happen for musicians and fans is for the two companies to do nothing.
"The system is broken," Azoff said. "This is about being in the music business -- not just the record business, not just touring, not just ticketing. With the almost complete collapse of the ability to monetize recorded music, we think this model will allow artists to control their fate along several product lines within the music business."
Photo: Michael Rapino Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press