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-- In the wake of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger AEG CEO Tim Leiweke sat with the Los Angeles Times and mentioned two things that AEG could address to help sign artists and benefit consumers: convince artists that size doesn't matter (AEG is much smaller than Live Nation Entertainment) and keep ticket prices manageable. On LNE's size, Leiweke said AEG always worries when artists and managers choose a promoter based on fear. On ticket prices, Leiweke's comments were similar to those made by critics of the merger. Competition in ticketing, he implied, won't affect ticket prices. "The only way for ticket prices to go down is if artists charge less," he said. "Building owners and promoters don't control pricing. That's controlled by the artists and their managers...That said, it's not all their fault. It's also the fault of the promoters who bid up the price. We're our own worst enemies."

So what does AEG have that will allow it to overcome its smaller size and deal with escalating ticket prices? It has its own ticketing service (complements of the Department of Justice) and the ability to share data between ticketing and promotion divisions. It has the ability to create comprehensive packages that will allow artists to make less from ticketing and more from other sources. And it has an industry concerned over LNE's market power - an environment ripe for partnerships and acquisitions to create a competitive bulkhead. (Los Angeles Times)

-- How did Live Nation and Ticketmaster get Department of Justice approval for their merger? Consulting firm Charles River Associates is taking some of the credit. From a press release: "CRA economists combined rigorous theoretical analysis with innovative empirical studies to analyze competition in concert promotions, artist tour routing, venue selection, and other competitive issues in the live entertainment industry." (Press release)

-- David Pakman (Venrock Associates, former CEO of eMusic) on the pricing battles in the e-book market: "The bottom line is that 'value' or 'worth' is not decided in a board room, it is decided by the market. Trying to play hardball with the market ultimately won't work. See the music industry whose sales are now $20B worldwide, down from $40B, and I think are going much closer to $10B - $12B before finding bottom." (dpakman.wordpress.com)

-- Fun flashback: CNET reported in April of 2003 that Apple was in talks to buy Universal Music Group from Vivendi for $5 billion to $6 billion. iTunes had not yet launched. Nobody imagined the iPhone could eventually exist. Many experts thought Apple should become a media company. "The company is clearly attempting to evolve away from being merely a personal computer company," said one analyst. "It does not want to be controlled by the same economic dynamics that govern the conventional business PC market." That's true, but Apple was smart enough not to exchange handsome technology profits for meager media profits. Another analyst opposed the deal, but for different reasons. "Apple's rumored bid for Universal Music group would be a big mistake in an era when artist discovery is being transformed by TV such as 'American Idol,'" he said. "Owning a stable of artists, no matter how well known, cannot compete with fan-based networks that find and nurture talent." (CNET)