-- “When 40% of tickets across the industry are going unsold, you have to have an honest talk about ticket prices,” says Jason Garner of Live Nation in an article at the Wall Street Journal. It’s the latest – and one of the longest – articles to examine the causes behind this summer’s spate of concert cancellations and poor ticket sales.

On the same day, Live Nation announced it would drop service fees in an effort to lower prices. “There is no interest in higher ticket prices or high charges,” Paul Latham, Live Nation International’s COO told BBC News. “We do want cheaper ticket prices which is why we're looking at advances in technology, print at home, ticketless events - all of these innovations will come about more quickly.”

One thing is missing from all the discussion of this summer’s concert season is how this summer’s supply of concerts compares to previous years. We all know that numerous shows have been cancelled or rescheduled. And we know that some people feel the number of cancellations is abnormally high. But if falling recorded music revenues are causing more artists to hit the road, and consumers have to limit their spending by choosing between concerts, the result could be an oversupply of concerts – or at least concerts that are booked in too ambitious of venues. A saturated market could end up looking a lot like consumer indifference.

The Journal did point out one important fact: Some artists are touring on the same album for quite a few years. Time will tell, but it appears fans may want to know this year’s concert will somehow be different than last year’s concert even though there is no new material to play. (Wall Street Journal, BBC News)

-- A Thomas Weisel Partners analyst has lowered his target price for Live Nation to $17 from the $19.50 level set just three weeks ago. “Our new estimates are largely a result of the U2 tour postponement and we believe that some of the concerns over the amphitheater environment while valid are overblown,” he wrote in a note to investors. This follows a lowered 12-month forecast by a Miller Tabac analyst two weeks ago, to $15 from $18. Miller Tabac reiterated its buy rating as well as its viewpoint that “the headlines have overly punished LYV shares.” (Ticket News)

-- Sarah McLachlan on Lilith Fair 2010: “We’re working really hard to keep our ticket prices really low so lots of people have an opportunity to come. Some people were complaining that there are $250 tickets. Yes, [some are] $250, and there’s 9,000 that are $25. You know, for 11 acts and [a full day] of music, that’s a pretty good ticket price. But people, you know, people are holding on to their money.” (Metromix Denver)

-- Canada’s Copyright Board will decide by the end of Friday if owners of sound recordings should receive royalties from radio stations. Records labels have argued they are due a royalty for the reproductions of digital files that are stored on radio stations’ hard drives. They are seeking 4% of stations’ gross annual revenues. (FYI Music)

-- Author Tony Woodlief penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal titled “Curse of the Greedy Copyright Holders.” The short version: many copyright holders pursue “illusory” short-term profit at the expense of actual long-term profit and betterment of the arts. The piece is yet another in a long line of criticisms of copyright that toss out a few supposedly representative anecdotes without recommending a solution or two.

Woodlief believes the problem stems from the discretion given to copyright holders to charge for the use of their works. He gives the example of a record label (he probably meant music publisher since this deals with a composition) seeking $150 for every 7,500 copies of his book that contained an eight-word quote from a Joe Henry song. “I love Joe Henry,” he writes, “but the price was too high. I replaced him with Shakespeare, whose work (depending on which edition you use) is in the public domain. Mr. Henry's record label may differ, but it's not clear that his interests —or theirs—are being served here. Were they concerned that readers might have their thirst for Mr. Henry's music sated by that single lyric?”

Other examples show that Woodlief chafes at copyright holders’ ability to set prices for use of their works. He doesn’t mention a solution, but it seems he might favor some sort of compulsory right – a government-mandated right to use a creative work with a mandated fee to go along with it. It’s clear he doesn’t feel the market is working well on its own.
Not that copyright is without need of change, but there are plenty of anecdotes that show market negotiations are not always characterized by the “greed” of copyright owners. Look no further than the use of music in television shows and commercials. Here, buyers negotiate with sellers for the use of songs. With demand for these placements high, it has become a buyer’s market. Some copyright owners gladly take little in exchange for the awareness – and future revenue – they hope the spot will generate. It comes down to this important point: It’s their right to accept low prices just as Joe Henry’s publisher has the right to set high prices. (Wall Street Journal)

Assorted Links
-- Arizona State University’s P2P and copyright infringement help page. (ASU.edu)
-- Upside Down: The Story of Creation Records is scheduled for an early autumn release. (UpsideDowntheMovie.com)