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Ticketmaster and Live Nation forge unholy alliance

Because concert-going still isn't quite pricey enough for us

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Concert scalper Ticketmaster and concert promoter Live Nation have agreed to merge.

Live Nation started life as a promoter of big concerts - Coldplay, Madonna, U2, Jay-Z are all signed to Live Nation. It does some business as a more traditional music label as well as running stadium gigs.

Ticketmaster scrapes a living by adding service charges, booking fees, handling charges and credit card fees to ticket prices for concerts and other live events. The company turned over $339m in the third quarter of 2008 and made a gross profit of $123m.

Neither company confirmed the deal, revealed by the Wall Street Journal. But it is likely to worry regular concert goers and could also worry regulators - the merger gives the new firm a stranglehold on certain kinds of live music.

Joe Cohen, Founder and CEO of Seatwave, the UK's largest fan-to-fan ticket exchange, said

The combination of Live Nation and Ticketmaster will create a company that controls over 70% of the UK ticketing market, the country's largest music promoter and management of over 200 of the world's top artists. Neither party has suggested how this tie-up in any way could be in the interests of fans.

Such an entity could easily control prices and supply in the market, crowd out other promoters and stifle innovation in a sector that sits in the centre of the UK culture. This deal will most certainly mean that we will see increased prices on tickets and job cuts in both companies.

Cohen is not the only one who opposes the deal. Bruce "The boss" Springsteen recently said any such merger would be bad news for fans.

Ticketmaster is also under investigation in Canada for allegedly diverting tickets to scalp sites which resell them at inflated prices. ®

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