Friday, March 7, 2008

Ticketmaster set to buy stake in Showbox via AEG buyout!

I've previously written about the corporate media empire of AEG and their purchase of Seattle's two Showbox venues and Bumbershoot booking (here, here and here). There is some new news on AEG that makes the big picture of corporate music and media consolidation look even more grim. Ticketmaster and Cablevision may soon acquire a 49% stake in AEG Live. Here's the whole story from Idolator (I highly appreciate their snarkiness):

"Billboard is reporting that two of my personal least favorite companies, Ticketmaster and Cablevision--the latter of which counts Madison Square Garden and the MTV-in-Pull-Ups network Fuse among its holdings--are on the verge of collectively acquiring a 49% stake in AEG Live, the second-largest concert promoter in the United States. (AEG's tours--which included Hannah Montana and Bon Jovi--took in $742 million last year, according to Billboard; the ever-expanding Live Nation was in the pole position.) According to sources, Fuse is in fact a key part of the deal, and the channel will be aggressively rebranded so that it can show the world that "AEG Live [is] a company now armed with a large media component and the world's largest ticketing company in Ticketmaster." But don't change that dial just yet! That MBA mumbo-jumbo just means that you'll probably be able to watch more live broadcasts of AEG Live-booked shows that just happen to be taking place at Fuse's neighbor across the street, Madison Square Garden--not to mention festivals like Coachella and All Points West, which AEG also has a hand in booking. And wait, there's more!

Given that Live Nation has been making a lot of noise about getting into the ticketing business itself, this deal could be seen as Ticketmaster's attempt to have a concert promoter of its own in its pocket--although as Billboard points out, this proposed partnership won't necessarily make up for the 15 million tickets that TM won't be selling once Live Nation's in-house ticketing system goes live next year. But it will be able to harness its "unique marketing power," i.e. its ability to drive its customers absolutely crazy thanks to charging them two bucks for things like using their own paper and ink to print out an already-overpriced ticket. Ah, Ticketmaster, you're so good at involving yourself in battles that should end in both combatants accidentally spiking each other in the proverbial neck at the same time, aren't you? Maybe thats a skill you should work on monetizing."

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