Live Nation, Ticketmaster Close to Merging

February 4, 2009 9:09 AM ET

Are new competitors Live Nation and Ticketmaster already looking to merge? That's the story according to the Wall Street Journal, which is reporting that the two concert giants are already deep in talks to consolidate into one company that would easily be the world's biggest concert promoter, ticketing service and artist-management company. While the new company would be called Live Nation Ticketmaster, it's unclear which company would be acquiring the other. Since the companies are dealing in an all-stock merger, it's on the fast track toward actually happening. While the boards of both companies have yet to approve the merger, it could be final as early as next week — distressing news for Phish and Bruce Springsteen fans, who both experienced major troubles with the two ticketing services in the past seven days.

Ticketmaster and Live Nation have slugged it out for market dominance in the months since Live Nation revealed the company was starting up its own ticketing service. Live Nation launched their own ticket Website, signed artists like Madonna and Jay-Z and teamed with Blockbuster, while Ticketmaster countered by purchasing Front Line Management and scooping up TicketsNow. The battle hasn't proven beneficial for either company, as Live Nation has witnessed its stock plunge to under $5 and Ticketmaster has gone from a year-high of $27 per share to a low of $3.33.

Still, if this merger does get approved, it needs to maneuver its way around any anti-trust charges. Ticketmaster was accused of holding a monopoly over ticket sales before Live Nation went out on its own, so imagine the uproar if the two were to join forces (remember Pearl Jam testifying at congressional hearings?). The merger comes at a strange time too, as Live Nation has just recently launched their ticketing service, which likely cost millions in preparation and manpower. Though Live Nation's ticketing service carried steep service charges and produced less-than-stellar results when Phish went on sale, buyers were still eager to embrace an alternative to Ticketmaster, the company that ruled the ticketing business for decades.

If the two were to become Live Nation Ticketmaster, they would be in control of more than 200 artists, including U2, Guns n' Roses, Jay-Z, the Eagles and many more of the biggest names in music. Imagine how high the service fees would be then.

Related Stories:

Ticket Battle Shakes Music Biz
Phish Fans Furious As Live Nation Fails First Major Ticketing Test
Ticketmaster Admits Springsteen Sale "Wasn't Our Finest Hour"

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