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Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger gets thumbs up from No Doubt/Nine Inch Nails' manager

January 26, 2010 |  4:29 pm

Trent Reznor 2005

Jim Guerinot, the manager of No Doubt, Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, the Band’s Robbie Robertson and the Offspring, was initially as skeptical as anyone in the concert business that the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger would clear the Justice Department.  But during the last year, as the two companies began working together more closely in hopes of uniting, he’s seen significant gains, both for his artists and their fans.

"I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of cooperation from them on fan-oriented programs to prevent scalping and lower ticket prices,” he told The Times on Monday.

He noted that anti-scalping measures that Reznor wanted for Nine Inch Nails’ farewell tour last year were implemented without resistance from Live Nation or Ticketmaster, and that both also fell in line with No Doubt’s wish to offer significant numbers of seats on the group’s 2009 reunion tour for $10.

“I can see where there would be concern from independent promoters, but on all my tours, I’ve been able to  lean into indies where I wanted to and where it’s more effective for the fans,” Guerinot said.

He believes the state of the economy nationally had a “tremendous amount” of influence in the approval from the Obama administration, which had been widely expected to exert far tougher scrutiny on corporate mergers than the Bush administration that preceded it.

“If these two companies don’t survive, it’s all a moot point,” he said. “If they do survive by merging, the question becomes, are they better equipped together to maintain a legitimate business model while creating a better opportunity for consumers. How is it going to be better for consumers? It has to be A) a business that is viable and B) one that grows the pot. And that’s been my experience.”

By dropping ticket prices, Guerinot said No Doubt was able to include several smaller markets it probably would have skipped in years past. “This was their biggest tour ever.”

“We were  able to create a different business model by growing the pie. All of a sudden, you increase your attendance numbers, and ancillary revenue numbers go up to compensate for reduced ticket prices.”

During the summer, Live Nation and Ticketmaster offered a number of promotions aimed at demonstrating that their collaboration would benefit rather than gouge consumers. Live Nation instituted “no-service fee Wednesdays” and cut prices on lawn seats at its network of amphitheaters around the country to draw more fans.

All of which sounds like best-foot-forward behavior typical of an engagement period. But what happens after the wedding day?

“There’s no way to tell for certain,” Guerinot said. “But the more fans we get, the better off we are. I don’t think we can keep shrinking the business at a high rate.”

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Trent Reznor during Nine Inch Nails' 2005 performance at KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas at Gibson Amphitheatre. Credit: Los Angeles Times