Are These Ticketmaster Fake Concert Ticket Tips For The Fans?

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Continuing our exploration of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, here’s a few wonderings I had about fake concert tickets as I read a recent post on Ticketmaster’s Ticketology blog.

Ticketmaster’s  Are those real post aims to share tips for fans to avoid counterfiet tickets. Most of the tips are helpful and it was interesting and heartbreaking to watch the videos they noted about a NY scalper who was caught scamming One Direction fans.

Yes, most of the tips are common sense and I would recommend reading them with the understanding that this is Ticketmaster after all and they don’t always have the best interest of the fans in mind.

And when they direct you to watch a video from Fans First Coalition just remember that Ticketmaster has been in a heated battle with rival Stubhub and as the NY Times reported last year:

This week a new nonprofit group, the Fans First Coalition, announced itself with a mission of protecting ordinary consumers from predatory ticket scalpers. The group appeared to have broad support from the industry, including prominent artists like R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Maroon 5 and Jennifer Hudson.

What fans might not know is that the coalition is financed by Live Nation Entertainment, the parent company of Ticketmaster, and that it has grown out of a lobbying fight between Live Nation and StubHub, the biggest legal online ticket reseller, over control of the multibillion-dollar secondary ticketing market.

Muddying the waters further, there is another group with a confusingly similar name, the Fan Freedom Project, which also claims to represent the interests of consumers. But it is largely financed by StubHub, a division of eBay.

 

As we continue to see social media transform the concert industry and the fan experience, the most interesting tip on Ticketmaster’s list is the one about not posting pictures of your concert tickets on Facebook or Twitter.

4. Do NOT take pictures of your tickets and post them to Facebook or Tweet them. Scalpers take these images and make counterfeits.

This tip seems like the hardest for fans not to do because part of the concert experience is sharing the news that you’re going to the concert and part of that process is proud showing of the evidence with a photo of your tickets to family and friends. It sure makes takes some of the fun out of using the Stagepage mobile app and Pinterest to celebrate our emotional ticket memory moments

But Ticketmaster advises you to resist the urge to do so because that feeds right into the evil clutches of ticket scammers.

Scammed by Sharing on Social Sites?

That said, I wonder how many fans have actually been the victim of counterfeit because of posting pictures of their tickets to social sites? If you have a story to share about this, let us know so we can understand how this sort of thing actually happens and explore it more on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

For me, I’ve never been the victim of counterfeit concert tickets directly, but indirectly I imagine that ticket scamming does raise the cost of tickets and I know that I’ve felt the impact many times in my wallet.

To wrap up this post, here’s a few links to more info I came across as I cruised around the interwebs to discover other aspects of our fake concert ticket exploration.

  • Faketicketgenerator.com  – I used this to have some fun and create the fake Live Fix Music Festival ticket above. Who knows we actually might have a festival like this someday.  What fake concert would you create?

 

Tips or Tricks?

Do you think these Ticketmaster tips truly shared in the best interest of the fans or is Ticketmaster posting these to drive fans to use their services?

What stories, tips and experiences do you have about fake concert tickets?

Share your concert experiences and thoughts in the comments below, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341, and we’ll include them in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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How Will Social Media Continue To Change Live Music?

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We’ve done a lot of exploring and experimenting this year with social media and live music. And it’s no surprise that social media communities and platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and virtual concerts have all changed how we experience live music. But what do the experts and innovators have to say about current trends and the future? Continue reading

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Will Our Nation Protect Live Music Fans?

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 Ticketdisaster.org

Higher ticket prices.  

Less innovative concert experiences.

Those are just two of the things facing live music fans as we get closer to the pending decision on the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger.

Last week, The National Association of Ticket Brokers & The National Consumers League along with a legion of 50 U.S. representatives announced the launch of Ticketdisaster.org, a new conveniently streamlined site designed specifically to educate concert fans on the consequences of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger.

Ticketdisaster.org does a nice job of breaking down the key issues into 5 points explaining how the merger impacts fans, artists and promoters.

Here’s a quote from the site below. I highly encourage you to visit it. The site’s very straightforward and a quick read. It’s one of the best breakdowns of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster Merger that I’ve seen so far.

If you need reasons to check out the site and educate yourself about the merger, you should check it out for two reasons:

1)  If this merger gets approved it will forever change your live music experience.  Think of how much you spent (or didn’t) this year on concerts.  Like a lot of live music fans you probably had to reduce the amount of shows you went to because of high ticket prices. Or maybe you were forced to buy concessions that were ridiculously high. Either way, the amount of concerts you go to or the price you pay for a beer will be impacted by the merger decision.

2) This will be one of the biggest events/decisions in live concert history, which is the reason why I’ve been doing so many updates  this year on Live Fix. So if you love live music and this country, you’ll want to see how our government does or doesn’t protect live music fans.

Here’s how Ticketdisaster.org puts it:

“As the Department of Justice reaches the final round of reviewing this merger, only one question must be answered: will the merger lead to increased prices, poorer service, or less innovation? In this case, the answer is all of the above, which is why this merger needs to be blocked.”

On the same day Ticketdisaster.org was launched, along with other representatives and consumer advocacy groups, Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) who spoke out in July to the DOJ, went before the DOJ on Capitol Hill to speak out against the merger again saying:

“It continues to be my view that this merger represents the greatest and most urgent threat to music fans across this country, and, if approved, will have far reaching and long lasting negative consequences for concert goers and nearly everyone involved in the live music business.”

UPDATE:

British regulators approved  Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger for UK market.

What to expect next via Billboard.

So fellow concert fans…

Do you think Pascrell’s right?

Are there any positive things that can come out of the merger?

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Did the Concert Industry Survive 2009?

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I’m not a big numbers guy but when I read the year-end numbers issued by Live Nation, AEG Live and other promoters, I thought it’d be a good idea for us to take a stroll through them just to make sure that the live music industry didn’t die and everyone made it through 2009 alive.

We’ll also lay to rest a few fan-centric issues and see why consumer protection groups are digging a grave for the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger.

What do concert promoters year-end numbers reveal?

First, according to Billboard, here are the 2009 Year-End Numbers for the North American Market, two top concert promoters and independent promoters.

North American Market

$2.8 billion in box office

down 2% and the 50 million in paid attendance is down less 1.7%

“numbers were generated from a 9% decrease in the number of shows reported”

The Billboard reports mentions that “a more positive indicator is a show-by-show analysis of the year.”  I’m not exactly sure what “show-by-show” means.

But they seem to be trying to put a positive spin on things by saying that “worldwide, average gross and attendance per show are up 11.3% and 11.8%, respectively. In North America, average per-show gross and attendance are up 7.6% and 8%, respectively.”

And what about the world’s two biggest concert promoters?

Well, it’s jarring how big a gap there is between the two’s 2009 numbers, which makes the merger all the more an important decision pending for 2010 ( All $ numbers are gross).

Live Nation (world’s largest concert promoter)

  • $2.5 billion
  • 41 million in attendance from 9,085 shows
  • 25% increase in gross and a 19% increase in attendance
  • 1.6% decrease in shows from 2008

AEG Live (2nd largest promoter)

  • $888 million
  • 12.8 million attendance from 2,531 shows
  • 12% decrease in gross and a 9% increase in shows
  • $1 billion gross, 14.5 million attendance 2,324 shows in 2008

Independent promoters:

Chicago’s Jam Productions

2009: $78 million

2008: $53 million

Austin’s C3 Presents

2009: $60 million

2008: $50 million

Consumer Protection Groups Chime In

Earlier this month consumer protection groups spoke about the issue of secondary markets (or ticket scalpers) as it related to the pending Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger:

Then again, ticket prices have steadily increased with the competition that currently exists in the marketplace. Primary tickets cost more for many reasons, but the fact is today’s ticket prices better reflect how consumers value the concerts. Companies should not be stopped from extracting existing value. On the other hand, the rise of the secondary market has caused the final prices paid by actual attendees to increase, too. Consumer protection groups were fairly quiet as states relaxed laws prohibiting scalping. Those changes paved the way for today’s secondary market and higher prices for consumers. So, one has to wonder if these groups are truly against higher prices for consumers or if they would oppose any merger regardless of its benefits or drawbacks.

As Billboard reporter Ray Waddle points out, we all want to end on a positive note in 2009, right?

Despite an extremely challenging economy, the global concert business managed to put solid numbers in 2009, a testament to both the resiliency of the business and the enduring popularity of live music.

Yes, considering the year that we had economically, I’d say the concert industry did as good as it could. Live Nation still came out on top even though they offered a year-long discounted  pricing option. And AEG Live seems to be holding a strong but distant second, even though they took a significant hit with Michael Jackson’s canceled concerts. We’ll have to wait and see if AEG Live’s 3D theatrical concerts will give them an edge in 2010.

Like I said before, I’m not a big numbers guy and I know it’s easy for fans to glaze over the numbers and only focus on the escapism of live music.

But, as a fellow fan, I share these numbers so you can at least have a better idea of what’s going on at the top level, so we can all make more informed decisions with our wallets.

What are your year-end numbers and 2010 forecasts?

Did you go to less shows than you did in 2008?

Do we still need to destroy the live music industry or create a FANS program?

Did you think the summer music festival layaway programs helped the concert industry and fans?

Will the U.S. Department of Justice approve the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger?

Photo by Colleen Catania

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Stuff Your Face (Before) Thanksgiving with Live Music News

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LFNewsMouth1

Are you a hungry live music fan?

I hope so.

Because I have 3 succulent and satifying live music news stories that’ll get you primed for the big feast later this week.

You can start the face-stuffing early as I dish out a meaty live music meal that’s simmering with stories that made my mouth water over the last couple weeks.

In other words, consider this a warm-up to get your belly ready for Turkey Day. 

What’s on the menu?

First, for appetizers, I have updates to both the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger and the back story to Michael Jackson’s This is It.

And then for the main course we’ll jab our fork and knife and cut into the wonderful world of fan/user-generated content as LiveNation.com overhauls its site to continue their interactive and social media efforts.

Live Nation-Ticketmaster Merger

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Live Nation Ticketmaster merger ever since it was announced. And since the last update this summer, it’s been pretty quiet on the merger front.  It’s not a huge announcement but earlier this month Live Nation and Ticketmaster announced they will have a shareholders meeting January 8th to vote on the merger.  

That’s nice that they’ve picked a day to vote internally for the shareholders, but what really matters is what the U.S. Department of Justice says when they finally weigh on the merger of the “world’s largest concert promoter and ticket seller by volume.”  I don’t expect any big news to come out in December but it’ll be a top story that I’ll continue to follow and keep you updated on as we roll into 2010.

Go behind This Is It:

I always love  getting the back story. And at the Billboard Touring Conference AEG executives shared some of the “behind-the-scenes” info on the production of Michael Jackson’s This Is It.

Here are my favorite parts of the story that show Jackson’s commitment to remain the true concert King of Pop, the dedication of fans and how AEG Live always makes sure distance themselves from any responsibility for Jackson’s death. It’s also interesting how the number of shows mystery continues to grow with each report.

  • The Jackson/AEG partnership resulted in a contract that initially included 31 dates, a number chosen by Jackson because it would be 10 more concerts than Prince performed. The number planned shows at the 02 Arena in London later grew to 50.
  • After deciding to go forward with a film, and with major studios lining up to bid on the rights, “the biggest concern was that something would leak on the Internet and destroy the value of the intellectual property,” Phillips says. “That’s why I’ve never seen security like this in my life. It was like working in the Pentagon.”
  • Phillips says that 14% of ticket holders held on to their tickets, which were designed by Jackson himself.

New User-Generated LiveNation.com:  Good for business and fans?

From music to hard news sites, user-generated content has been trending as the way to go for bands, brands and concert promoters.

And with the growing popularity of social media  and the advance of mobile technology, it’s never been easier for concert fans to capture and document their live concert experiences.  

As I mentioned before I’ve been checking  out SPINearth’s and Verizon‘s approach and I’ve enjoyed being able to see a wide range of emotional insights from fans that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to see.  

Yes, the quality of the videos or the storytelling might not be the best, but I’ll tell you that I’ve learned  a lot about what fans focus on during the concert, which in some cases, helps me write better reviews and understand why we love live music so much.

As I’ve studied these user-generated content sites more this year, I’ve wondered about the true motives of the creators and developers. I wonder if it’s a crafty guise for promotion and market research.  When I say this I’m thinking about Live Nation’s recently overhauled site as Billboard reports

Artists will be able to upload details of their own concerts, for instance, which will appear with the artists LiveNation is promoting. Fans will be able to submit entries to artist-specific wiki pages, ratings and reviews, moderate Q&As and integrate their Twitter feed to the LiveNation site.

That all sounds great.

But I have my doubts, too.

Are they really creating a community where fans have more  power and  expressive freedom?

Or is Live Nation only interested in creating a slick market/research model that’s designed to find out more about their customers buying habits than their love for live music?

I’ll give Live Nation the benefit of the doubt for now and say that it’s probably a mix of both because many of those working on Live Nation’s new fan section are not just savvy business people but are dedicated music fans themselves.

 

LiveNationnewsite

Live Nation's New Fan Section

For the most part, I’m all for fans having a way to share their experiences on these user-generated content site because it does give fans a voice.  I just want to make sure all the voices are heard and their not being filtered or censored in a way that hurts fans.

That said, as savvy concert fans, we should always be on the lookout and not get wooed into a completely mindless and relaxed state of entertainment. We should always be asking ourselves, are we being taken advantage of and does Live Nation really care about our life-changing concert experiences?

I consider it a huge honor and a privilege to hear and share your concert stories. I just hope that Live Nation feels the same way.

In addition to Live Nation’s new website, I’ve also been following their Facebook fan page  and Twitter updates for awhile and I look forward to sharing what I find with you, too.

That’s all the live music news for now.

Did I miss anything?

Still hungry?

Tell me all about it in the comments.

 

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Live Music Fans Need a CARS Program

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LFClunker5

Have you ever had an idea that you knew was crazy, but you still wanted to share it?

And did you ever try to communicate your crazy idea with an image or photo-shopped picture, but were afraid to share your “idea art” because it look like a 3rd grader made it instead of a brilliant and mature adult mind?

Well, I have.

My picture is above (it’s suppose to be a ticket stub with car wheels in case you’re wondering).  And it’ll make more sense once you hear what my crazy idea is.

My Crazy CARS Idea

If our government is going to let us trade in our clunker cars for cash/credit, then why shouldn’t the concert industry find a way to trade in bad shows for credit towards better, more efficient future shows?

WTF Chris?

Before you start thinking I’m nuts (just like some of these guys who presented some pretty crazy ideas in their day), let me say that, on one level, I’m sharing this idea with you for fun.

But there’s also a part of me that would like to seriously explore the idea–even if it’s got a few gaping holes in it right now.

And this one does.  But that’s why I’m seeking your help and advice.  And I hope you hang with me as I start to develop the idea.  I can’t do this without you.

If we tried, I think we could really come up with something. Or we could at least get the conversation started. And have a little fun in the process by tossing around ideas. 

What really made me think about this crazy idea?

Well, first, I was sick and tired of hearing about the Cash for Clunkers program on the news and I was growing weary hearing Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs tell me how I could trade in my clunker for a new Ford. 

My other reasons were more related to live music.

The recent Live Nation-Ticket Master merger and the current state of the concert industry, watered the idea in my head.

And then, as I went through some of my last several shows and thought about the ratio of good shows vs. bad shows,  I started to think…

What if we had a system in place that allowed fans and the live music industry to put on better shows? Would such a plan increase the amount of good and give  us more great shows? 

And would it benefit the live music industry?

It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Uncle Sam Loves Live Music Too!

If our government is going to create a plan to accomplish three goals at once–help car dealers increase business, get inefficient clunkers off the street and help put Americans behind the wheel of newer more efficent vehicles–then why can’t we use The CARS (Car Allowance Rebate System)program to create a similar concept for the live music industry?   I know I saw President Obama receive tons of support at concerts in 2007 and 2008, so I know Uncle Sam loves live music too.

As fans, we all know that live music can always be more economically efficient and if we were to create a CARS program for live music I think it would also be emotionally benefical for fans, artists and promoters.  How so?  Well, if there was a way to give fans rebates for bad shows, I think there are a few all-around benefits that would justify figuring out a CARS program for the live music industry.

Raise Promoters Standards

I respect the hard job that promoters have and understand it’s extremely difficult to put on a live show. I don’t want to make it harder on promoters by creating new handcuffing ordinances.  I’m hoping to make live music better for everyone.  So what if promoters had to put on shows knowing that if the whole concert experience didn’t meet a certain set of emotional or performance criteria,  then fans could ask for a credit to a future show? Would this empower promoters to put on the best show possible? I think so.

Help Musicians Improve Their Live Show Chops Faster

Hey, I know perfecting the live show is one of the hardest things for an artist. And I’ve reviewed and sat through my share of bad shows. But I’ve also felt the pain of the artist who hasn’t quite mastered live performance, which can be equally painful for fans. So what if there were certain regulations and requirements that an artist had to meet to qualify as a bad, good or great show? Would this force them to work on their live show and shorten the learning curve to become a great live act?  I think so.

Reduce the Frustrations of Fans

Without fans the live concert industry is nothing but a bunch of empty venues with bands playing for no one.  Just like their physical bodies,  the emotions of fans are equally the bread and butter of the live concert experience.   Happy fans sing along during climaxing choruses while angry and upset fans riot and rush the gates like those at Rock the Bells 2004.  Watching footage of rioting fans, or reading about a bad concert experiences like the Smashing Pumpkins fans confirms for me that having a set of  rules and regulations in place to lower a fan’s level of negative emotional baggage after a show will benefit the future of live music.

But would a live music CARS program guarantee a fan to have a beneficial and positive emotional live concert experience? 

And if we were to create a CARS program for the live music industry, where should we start? 

Well, for starters, we need three things: 1) a name, 2) program criteria and 3) the agreement of all parties involved. 

LFFans

What would we call such a program? 

Say we called it: F.A.N.S. (Future Allowance for No Shows).  I think this will work to start the discussion.  It’s a nice acronym because it puts the focus on the right group of people: THE FANS.

What would be the program’s criteria?

Should we create criteria based onlyon the performance? Or should we also factor in the venue?  Should we consider the artist and how many shows they have performed? For example, say if they’ve only performed 1 or 2 times.  Then that show is not eliablge for a fan rebate even if the show sucks because the band is too inexperienced.  Sort of like to how rookie baseball players can’t file for free agency until they’ve been in the league for 5 years.   But if that’s the case, how many shows should we require a band to play before a fan can claim a No Show?

What is a No Show?

There’s so many criteria questions to consider, but I think a good place to start is to decide what a “No Show” is. 

A “No Show” could be a show that doesn’t meet a certain set of criteria based on venue conditions, performance quality or fan post-show emotions.

Once you figure that out. Then one thing makes this whole FANS process really tricky: Subjectivity.

I’m not trying to unravel my own idea.  I’m just cutting to the chance and pointing out a simple fact about live music. 

How would you determine the show as “eligible” for a refund when the criteria is so subjective?  If Bono didn’t play your favorite song during the 360 tour, or Kanye insulted your favorite artist (again) would you call it a “No Show.”

With CARS it’s easy. There’s a nasty old car. A tangible product that can  be exchanged and agreed on as a “clunker.”  Simple.

But with live music it’s not so easy.  

The judging and selection for criteria is far more subjective. There’s tons of different individual impressions and every fan has their own set of emotional expectations.  And you’d have to guard against fans who would exploit the system.  For example, a fan could knowingly go to a great show, but try to work the system and ask for “a future allowance” and keep doing it with no limit.  To stop this from happening,  we could create a limit of “No Shows” a fan can declare for a certain time period, or a certain band?  

And once you figure out the program’s criteria the biggest hurdle is getting everyone to agree on it.  Which would probably take longer than agreeing on healthcare and immigration combined.

Would fans, artists and promoters all embrace F.A.N.S. ?

Looking back at live music industry history, I’m sure that pioneers of the live music business like Bill Graham didn’t have a CARS program  for the concert industry in mind when he began making a template for the live music business. So I imagine it would be a huge upheaval in any promoters business model to all of a sudden offer refunds for terrible shows.   

If you’ve read this far I thank you.  And you probably think I’m totally crazy or completely brilliant. Or maybe a mix. (At least tell me that you enjoyed my photo art.)

Either way, like I said at the start, I’m doing this because I believe in the power of live music to change our lives.  And I’m having fun and I think we should honestly explore this idea. 

When I was writing this post, I thought back to all the shows where I’ve walked away wishing I could get my money back because the show was terrible. And I know I wasn’t the only one in the crowd thinking that.  That said–and regardless of how silly it might seem–I think a FANS program is worthy of exploring, if nothing more than for the sole purpose of improving the live concert experience for the fan’s sake.

Would you be a fan of  FANS?

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How To Destroy the Concert Industry

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Sounds drastic I know.

But I only say it like that because I want to ask you a question that’s very important to you and me.

Do you think we need to “destroy” the corporate live music industry from the top down and start over?

I’ll be honest and tell you that I’m not sure. 

But I do know that I’m not alone in questioning the current system.

I found a like-minded fellow blogger when I read this response  article by Fuel TV music blogger Colin Stutz. His response did a good job of furthering my concern for live music fans since I last fleshed out my thoughts about the woes of the concert industry.

In short, Stutz was responding to an article written by the New Yorker’s John Seabrook who made his own case for a breaking down of the concert industry in order to rebuild it and improve it.

Here’s a bit of what Stutz said:

 “Seabrook goes on to make the counterpoint that if the concert business is to take the place of the record business within the current music industry then some concessions must be made. Money is necessary to develop new artists who will in turn fuel tomorrow’s industry, so evil as this may seem perhaps it is a necessary evil. But what has this done to the concert-going experience and at what cost does this change come? Does anyone really find big stadium concerts to still be fun; is this format at all artistically rewarding anymore?”

These are all great questions to ask any live music fan.  And, yes, like any lasting change, there is a huge cost required.  Believe me, I know.  As both a fan and music journalist, I’m taking a risk by writing about this. But I belive it’s worth the risk. I love live music and if there’s any way to improve the live music experience I will do my best to do my part.  Because I know what it means to me and the power it has in our lives.

Do I think we need to wish for a crumbling down of the current live music system and ticketing structure in order to move forward and bring about lasting change? 

For starters, I wouldn’t wish for a complete wipe out and clean slate from the top down.  And I don’t see that happening anytime soon; though it would be quite the spectacle to watch something like that happen at a corporate level.

But if you want to talk real revolution, I’ve always believed that the power is always in the hands of the fans when it comes down to lasting change in concert culture.

And change always starts in our own minds and hearts. And usually we’re only moved when something very dramatic and emotionally moving gets us to take action.

But, when it comes to live music, I’ve always questioned whether or not fans even care to put the effort forward to see change happen. 

Why do I think this?    Well, in my exploration into fan behavior in concert culture, I’ve realized that there’s a conflict in the minds of fans. Largely because fan behavior at concerts is usually more of the passive entertainment nature.  And in order for fans to change their behavior and move out of a passive state of entertainment and take action to see the corporate concert industry change its ways something major would have to happen to motivate, or really piss off fans.  And if nothing major happens, I just don’t see fans moving in that direction.  Because, right now, they have no real reason to. 

And that bothers me to type that. But I say it because it’s true.

Live music is such a major part of our lives. And the live music experience is such a complex mix of behaviors and expectations.  Sometimes it’s a moment of pleasure and passive entertainment where we give our money in exchange for 2 hours of escape. And other times its active, a moment of protest, and we come to the show expecting to be moved or challenged by other fans or the music itself. 

So for fans to all of a sudden snap into a complete mood of concert activism, and not be passive entertainees, would be nothing short of a live music miracle.

It will take several more Bruce Springsteen ticket scandals to shock fans out their usual comfort level and give them a reason to care and demand the corporate concert industry change its ways.

Sure, the Recession has forced fans to pick and choose which concert they’re going to spend their money on.  But the fact that the concert industry is one of the only money makers in the music industryright now,  makes me think  that –without something horrible and deeply oppressive happening first– live music fans still don’t think things are that bad to put long term pressure on the corporate concert industry.

Don’t get me wrong, though.  I’m all for a grass roots uprising if it’s going to help and not hurt. But most of the festivals I’ve reviewed this year were promoted by Live Nation or AEG, the industry top two corporate promoters.  And in those reviews I’ve said my piece about how my expectations were not met because of a corporate and overly sterile vibe in the venue and treatment of the music.  But at those same concerts, I also saw thousands of  fans who didn’t seem to mind paying the ticket price and waiting in line for $4 bottled water. 

I do agree with Stutz when he says that the current concert ticketing ways of Live Nation are certainly geared towards the Baby Boomer who are spending most of the cash for the big ticket shows.  But, as I mentioned above, there is also a younger demographic that is also paying the prices without a problem, or questioning the process. And Live nation seems to be very aware of this as they continue to  reach out to the younger generation via social media communities like Facebook and their current Twitter “Ultimate Concert Access Pass” Contest.

That said, maybe this “fan uprising” or “bringing down” of the current live music system will come from my generation or the ones after me within communites like Twitter?   Who knows? Change might come in stages over time. And we’re still waiting  for an answer from the government on the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger. So there’s a lot of unanswered questions.

But one thing’s for sure.  I’ve been encouraged by a local grassroots uprising here in Chicago as  local independent Chicago promoters pushed back over the last year against city ordinances to keep independent music communities alive and thriving here in Chicago.

So what are you going to do?

Do you think fans need to take action to rework the live music industry?

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Why I Love The Ticketmaster Live Nation Merger

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Dear Live Music Citizens,

It goes without saying that I love live music. So it’s only natural that I’ve been feeding you a regular stream of updates on the Live Nation Ticketmaster merger. And though I’ve used that above image in a few of the posts, as other bloggers have, I continue to post about the merger so that we don’t get used to them being together and think that the merger doesn’t have a huge impact on our live concert experiences.

It has a huge impact.

And who would have thought live music would have made made me a more active and aware citizen.  My high school history and music teachers would be proud.

That said, this weekend you will probably enjoy a concert, or maybe two,  so here’s some more info you need to consider and take with you on the way to the show. Because we can never be too informed about events that have an impact on our rights to enjoy live music on our terms.

So, in addition to the update I posted last week on the Ticketmaster Live Nation merger, I’d like to share with you a very thorough update courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times pop critic Jim Derogatis who, last week, posted a list of links and thoughts about the merger, which is still pending.  

I can always count on Dero to get comprehensive and this is one of those times when we need it most.

Stay informed, enjoy your weekend and enjoy the show!

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Will New Antitrust Leadership Impact the LiveNation Ticketmaster Merger?

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Will you trust the U.S. Department of Justice to govern your live concert experiences?

Things have been fairly quite recently on the congressional front regarding the LiveNation Ticketmaster merger. But yesterday I saw this news story come across my Twitter update feed. It came curtosity of @concertinfo who was Retweeting Alfred Branch Jr’s  Ticketnews story.  Branch was reporting on the speech given by Christine Varney, the new head of the Antitrust Division  of the U.S. Department of Justice

As Branch reports, among other points during her speech,Varney laid out her plan to do things differently and start by no longer following the:

“Competition and Monopoly: Single-Firm Conduct Under Section 2 of the Sherman Act,” because it “raised too many hurdles to government antitrust enforcement and favored extreme caution and the development of safe harbors for certain conduct, according to Varney.”

Most of the focus and response to Varney’s speech was on the removal of the Section 2 report as it signals a “shift in philosophy,”  which experts say will let concert fans and every one else know how seriously the AntiTrust division is approaching the LiveNation-Ticketmaster merger case. 

It’s a timely update to keep the status of the merger on our radar. But the full effect of Varney’s plan still needs to be implemented inorder to see whether or not she’ll make a positive impact on the merger.   And for the record, Verney has a long history of work in internet policy, has links back to the Clinton Administration and was part of the Obama transition Team.

While the merger story unfolds, one of the next steps we can take as concert fans is to keep an eye on what Varney does next and watch what happens during the Ticket Summit in Las Vegas July 15-17th as the industry convenes to discuss the merger and other ticket-related biz.

What are your thoughts on Verney’s plan?  Will this be good for live music fans?

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Why Does Paranoia Suck For Live Music Fans?

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 I like asking questions like that.

That’s why I’m a little surprised that this bit of important info evaded most reports about the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger. But I’m glad I eventually came across Bill Wyman’s Hitsville post citing this Billboard article about the connections between the Obama administration and the heads at Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

It’s interesting, but not completely surprising news to me.  Because I experienced many concerts in 2008 that displayed the mobilizing force of the Obama campaign within the live concert community.  

But what I’d like to focus on here is Wyman’s word choice.

The negative impact of a paranoid mind

Though, Wyman might have been using ‘paranoid’ loosely, I still liked Wyman’s use of the word ‘paranoid’ because it got me thinking about how we could choose to respond psychologically to the relationship between the Obama Administration and the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger.

And when I thought about the effect of paranoia on our minds in times crisis or when we need to take some type of action, I thought about how being paranoid can have a negative impact and actually produce the opposite of what we really need in order to keep tabs on this merger situation: clear and rational thinking.

In response to this Obama connection news (or any situation that requires a level-headed response), I decided being paranoid isn’t the best thing. Because all it does is shut down our brain’s ability to think clearly and rationally. In order to keep The Obama Administration and big companies like Live Nation and Ticketmaster honest, we  really need to be informed and level-headed concertgoers. And we definitely don’t need to be ‘paranoid’ to the point where we stop think rationally or stop thinking at all.

We need to balance our love for live entertainment with an informed mindset, so we can continue to enjoy live music on our terms. And we do this by not letting paranoia rule our minds nor let our love for live entertainment lull us into a state of  political and civic apathy. We have a right to be entertained (sounds kind of funny but it’s true) and a responsibility to stay informed about the laws and happenings that determine our live concert rights. Judging by what I saw at concerts in 2008 we know how to be political and still have fun rockin’.

Since the Senate hearings in February, there’s been no official update on the merger status. But we’ll keep our antenna up and not let ‘paranioa strike deep or into our minds seep.’

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Your Ticket to Understanding Merger Madness

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It was a busy week for live music and our nation’s political process. From live blogging Senate hearings, to RollingStone.com getting called out, music writers and fans were treated to a week full of potential merger C-SPAN craziness.

I don’t remember the political process being this engaging growing up. Of course, when you’re in high school and college you have to care (or be convince you should care) in order to be get involved in a cause. But if any political sciences teacher is look for a way to connect with his or her students, then I think the last few weeks (and year) have given many reasons why we should find some way to get involved in our nation’s political process, if only because of our love for live music on our terms.

Needless to say, I was stoked to see our political process at work and in favor of our live music experience this week. And I’ll try to make this as easy as possible because I know reading all these blog posts and merger stories, fan comments, can really make your head spin.

It’s easy to boil down the Live Nation-Ticketmaster story to a good guys (fans, music writers, indie promoters, senators) vs. bad guys (corporate promoters, and ticket sellers) standoff, but I think the issue might be a bit more complicated than that.

Human behavior is a peculiar and complex thing. Sometimes we don’t mind being controlled by or working for a corporate conglomerate. Because it either helps us pay the bills or their current corporate practices don’t upset us or impact our daily lives enough to challenge them.

By the quick rise and response to the Live Nation and Ticketmaster merger, it’s clear that live music is very important to us all. From blog comments to Senate hearings, we’ve spoken making it clear that live music means a lot to us and it more than just a source of entertainment. It’s our right.

And the current economic climate just makes it all the more important to us. If we fear that a monopoly will raise ticket prices and force us to stop going to shows, or make us pay more for our concert experience when we know we shouldn’t, then we do stand up and challenge them.

I know I’ve been impassioned about a few political and social events in my life but thinking through and writing my thoughts about this merger (my way of fighting back, I guess) has forced me to refine my thinking about what it means to stand up and say something.

So I ask you, fellow live music fan…what’s your calling? What’s your weapon of choice: a blog, your wallet, or the fear having to give up a concert of your favorite band?

What would you do to stop this merger, or fight against if it did get approved?

To help you think through things, here’s a list of some blogs and links that have helped me make since of it all, and challenge me to get involved. Please feel free to add to it by emailing me or dropping a comment.

First, here’s a list of links from music journalist Bill Wyman’s Hitsville blog. Much thanks to his chronological order of the live blogging of the Senate Subcommittee hearings this week. It was a great help.

Wyman passes along a Billboard article that dissects the merger by crunching the numbers.

Then Wyman turns to his own journalistic skill and calls out Rollingstone.com for committing an act of “lazy journalism” for “copying” a large portion of Sun-Times reporter Jim Derogatis merger story.

Though the circumstances are promising for live music, it’s still great to see the live music community, our government and fans coming together via the blogs and Internet. The digital democracy is fantastic and inspiring.

I didn’t ever think I would be forwarding you a C-SPAN video on Live Exhaust, but here’s a video of Tuesday’s hearings in their entirety.

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Will the Merge Affect You?

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A couple of weeks ago I dropped comment on Entertainment Weekly’s article about the possible merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation. Here’s what I said when the article asked if I even cared about the merger:

“ Yes, I do care about this possible merger. And I hope it doesn’t happen. I don’t think any “innovation” can come from ripping off and taking advantage of live music fans. Are we hoping for the government to regulate our concert-going experiences? In any case, fans are always in control. These companies can’t exist without our money. If they’re foolish enough to rip us off and think that it won’t hurt their business, we must show them otherwise by not paying the prices and/or flooding the company with our thoughts and opinions. Artist must also support the fans and we’ll support them.”

Then yesterday this The Record article by Herb Jackson came across the Popmatters PopWire and it’s good to see that Senators are standing up to the Ticketmaster and Live Nation and seriously questioning the integrity of the merger.

Since we’re all more politically aware in 2009, what’s your vote for this merger? Do you think it’ll really bring down ticket prices, or is this just a monopoly waiting to happen? And do fans really have that much control over the situation?

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