This is what we’ve been waiting for! Finally, months after approval, the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger has paid dividends. Now, if you’re a Ticketmaster customer you’ve just received an e-mail offering you $25 in Live Nation cash when you join the Zagat Wine Club. Whoopie! Now I’m gonna be so high when ordering tickets I won’t be able to complete my order, or will make a mistake and end up in the Ticketmaster customer care backwater, spending hours just trying to get a refund.
Buy a concert ticket and regret it? Just try to get your money back.
But the reason I’m writing is I’ve been inundated with e-mail about this. The page I’m linking you to does not do the e-mail justice, wherein the Live Nation cash offer is so prominent. And the point of my story is that we no longer live in the dark ages, make a faux pas in the Internet era and suddenly EVERYBODY knows about it!
The opposite is when you make great music, word spreads just as fast. That’s the new Web experience. Heinous and ultimate, the two opposites, are all anybody cares about. Mediocre? Merely good? Who’s got time for that! Which is why when your music is less than stellar you get no traction. The days of a limited radio world, where a promo man can get airplay on a lame label priority and make headway are done. No one’s got the time.
It’s like Rapino and Azoff have to get MBAs, or at least learn about brand management. Hell, Irving’s so good at protecting his acts, you’d think he’d protect TM/LN’s brand. But no. Tony Hsieh gets tons of publicity for allowing Zappos customer service reps to be heroes, and Ticketmaster is the most hated entity on earth. And, please be aware, Zappos does not sell on price, it’s not a discount outfit, its shoes are expensive, but people flock to the site because of the service. Isn’t this the future music business model? Where we offer goods at a fair price, but treat you fairly?
As for Live Nation, the concert promotion end of the entity, what exactly does the company stand for? If you went to a Bill Graham concert to be treated well, do you go to a Live Nation show to raise the company’s stock? Live Nation doesn’t give back, it only takes. Instead of ripping us off with service charges, it should be donating some of the exorbitant fees it charges to charity, then again, those fees represent its profit, along with beer and wine and parking.
Yup, that’s how screwed up the concert business is. You complain about the service fees? Those are the main revenue generator for Live Nation! Which helped create this situation by overpaying for acts to fill its buildings to create cash flow and give the illusion that promoting rock concerts is a profitable business that deserves Wall Street investment.
But it doesn’t. Only investors who can afford overpriced tickets don’t realize that the model is broken. That first and foremost, there must be demand. And that requires multiple acts that can do sell out business. But there are few of those, because it’s hard to reach critical mass in today’s market and too many wannabes are just that, having watched "American Idol" and read Perez Hilton, they’re focused on fame, not music, and unwilling to pay their dues for years in order to get a toehold, which may never pay off.
There will be a healthy concert business once again. When the acts functioning outside the system, who aren’t about the immediate splash, but the long term return, finally mature and pay dividends.
But that’s not now.
Now, it’s every man for himself. Every fat cat in the music industry trying to protect the old model, where he’s overpaid and the acts are secondary.
Meanwhile, the public is scratching its head and saying HUH?
Zagat and music, I see the connection. They’re both about selling out. Zagat was family-run, focused on delivering a great product, however limited, and now it’s a company trying to increase its footprint, damn the mission, just like Live Nation.
Presently Zagat is off the market, but you can credit the 2008 stock market crash for that: Zagat Family Is Putting Guide Empire on Market
If Live Nation wants to prosper, it not only has to protect and ultimately buff its image, it’s got to treat customers right. Instead, its stewards are turning it into a laughingstock.