Hot tickets: What does music merger mean for Crozet?

MusicToday got its start selling tickets and merchandise for one particular band.

What does LiveNation's proposed merger with Ticketmaster, announced Tuesday February 10, mean for the Crozet-based ticket and music merch biz that LiveNation already owns?

The deal has immediately raised eyebrows in Washington, as U.S. Senator Chuck Shumer denounced the proposed merger as monopolistic, and there are suggestions that the new president's Justice Department may want to block it.

LiveNation documents vow "no immediate change to organizational structure or jobs at either company," but the documents also suggest $40 million in annual synergies from combining the companies.

"I have been trying and mostly consistently failing to put these companies together for many years now," said Ticketmast chairman Barry Diller in a conference call the morning of the announcement.

Already, strong words of displeasure have rung from on high, with both the man known as "The Boss" weighing in. The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, has expressed displeasure with Ticketmaster's foray into the so-called "secondary" market of ticket selling.

"Ticketmaster's efforts in engaging in secondary ticketing are designed to make a more transparent and secure marketplace for those kinds of transactions," Diller said in the conference call.

Telephone calls to MusicToday's president and to its founder were eventually returned, but both men, Del Wood and Coran Capshaw, declined to speak about the deal.

So what about the folks working in Crozet? LiveNation chief financial officer Kathy Willard declined to discuss specifics other than to note, ominously for some workers, that the $40 million savings would be realized "within the first year after the closing."

More encouragingly, one individual close to the operation says that because MusicToday is largely built on fan clubs and merchandise fulfilment–- areas where Ticketmaster has little or no revenue–- those MusicToday/LiveNation jobs should be safe.

"Live Nation's strategy has focused on the development of a direct artist/fan distribution pipe," LiveNation CEO Michael Rapino noted in the conference call.

One thing the conference call didn't address was the irony that LiveNation and MusicToday, companies largely built on artist/fan love and on antipathy toward double-digit ticket "convenience fees" should suddenly wrap its arms around such a fan-vilified company as Ticketmaster.

Meanwhile, some Ticketmaster shareholders are crying foul via a class-action lawsuit claiming that they're not getting compensated enough in the deal.

–last updated 12:18pm February 17


If there is a God (and there is) this new company will be one that doesn't survive the current financial crisis. Ticketmaster is one of the greediest corporate entities in America, and deserves to die.

A couple of weeks ago I bought tickets to go see a concert in May - tickets were $39.50 and I got GREAT seats because I got in there early. But then you add on the $9 "convenience charge" and the $7 "handling fee" and those $40 tickets became $56 - and the worst part is they aren't even delivering the tickets - we have to pick them up at the Will Call window. So nobody from Ticketmaster is touching the tickets in any way, and they're charging us a total of $32 not to touch the tickets in any way. Their overhead is next to nil, and they're pocketing $32 from us.

The venue seats about 2,900, so at a premium of $16 per seat, Ticketmaster is pocketing over $46,000. Is the band even making that much? Probably not, and the band actually has to work for their $. Ticketmaster just extorts it from us.

At least they didn't add on the completely bogus "facility" fee that you get hit with when you go to Nissan Pavilion...which is owned by Live Nation (formerly Clear Channel), of course.

If there's any industry that needs to fall apart and be reorganized for the public good, it's Ticketmaster. Most companies that grow employ their economy of scale to lower prices and improve services. Ticketmaster does the opposite. They are predatory toward entertainers, venues, and the ticket-buying public.

Ticketmaster's hook used to be that they had so many outlets, making it convenient for people to buy tickets. That model is no longer relevant. Local venues can sell their own tickets, but with Ticketmaster and LiveNation if they want to book the top acts, they have to play the game and let TM or LM run things on the consumer side.

If the Justice Department didn't have bigger fish to fry, it would be interesting to see what they could dig up here. Extortion, collusion, anti-trust galore?

well said! total crooks/leaches/etc

Companies don't do themselves any good breaking down the charges and labeling them, because then you've got something specific to argue with them about. Like UPS, if they deliver a package to a rural area you get charged a "Rural delivery fee" and also a "Fuel surcharge." If you try to buy a car there's a "Dealer prep fee" or "dealer advertising fee." Those are just costs of doing business, guys. Give us a bottom line price. The "convenience fee" of Ticketmaster is especially insulting. I hope they die too.

Talk about irony! Wasn't Musictoday started to be an alternative to Ticketmaster? I feel sorry for the locals that will soon be looking for work in this wonderful economy in a town where no one want's to pay you a living wage.

Music Lover,

Don't go to concerts then that TicketMasters handles. If you go to the concerts and pay them your money, don't say they should go out of business because you are supporting them.

I don't buy anything from them and under the current economy, that seems like a good idea regardless of who sells the tickets.


The problem is that if you do that, you're going to be missing a lot of great shows.

You don't need to go to a show. You can make your own entertainment. Something really cool like cow tipping, demolition derby on a farm, or just shooting at deer crossing signs on the highway if you can't find a real deer.

I'm not sure the premise of this letter is fact-based. Do we know what the ratio of pleas-trials is in non-PD cases? I imagine it's pretty damn high - probably no different. Let's face it: most people end up pleading guilty in order to reduce their jail/prison time. If somebody represented by the PD office is innocent and demands a trial, is there any evidence that they don't receive one? Or is it a case of 90% of their clients are actually, how you say it, guilty?

To revise and extend my remarks, I called a dear friend who is a Public Defender in Florida - in fact, she's one of relatively few trial certified PDs in that state. According to her, a 10% trial rate is HUGE and something to be proud of. She estimates that far less than 10% of criminal charges end up in trials, regardless of whether the attorney is a Public Defender, court-appointed, or a hired gun.