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Ticketmaster & Front Line Merger: Highway to Ticket Hell?

Ticketmaster last week completed its acquisition of Front Line Management, a talent agency — expanding Ticketmaster’s empire into a vertically integrated unit renamed “Ticketmaster Entertainment.” Combine the acquisition with Aus_666_sign--Image02C/DC announcing it is the latest band to use Ticketmaster’s “paperless ticket” technology on its live tour, and I’m left wondering — are we on the highway to ticket hell?


As I’ve written in a previous posting, Ticketmaster has introduced what it calls a “Paperless Ticket” and Veritix has a paperless ticketing technology called Flash Seats. The concept is the same – no more paper tickets.


And while I’m unabashedly pro-technology on many fronts, here’s where I’m skeptical. The use of electronic tickets, when combined with the recent vertical integration moves of both Ticketmaster and Live Nation, could provide less control for consumers to do what they want with tickets.


The trend in the industry is to integrate the 4 major aspects of a live show: 1) primary ticket sales; 2) management and promotion; 3) direct artist to fan (clubs and paraphernalia); and 4) secondary ticket sales. Technology can be used to help tie the ticket to all aspects of the business, and even provide more control to music artists, but the downside could be a lack of consumer control once the ticket is purchased.


Under Ticketmaster’s paperless tickets policy, you have to present a credit card and a government-issued photo identification for admittance. What if you want to sell the ticket? Or your baby sitter cancels in the last minute and you want to give your tickets to a friend? Can’t do it. At least not under the current policy.


AC/DC’s latest tour is named after its new album, Black Ice. Let’s hope that electronic tickets aren’t the cause of consumers skidding out of control of their own tickets.


-Braden Cox