-- Major concessions would be needed for the Justice Department to approve a merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, sources have told the Wall Street Journal. The report offered no details or guesses on which concessions could be made. One possible scenario could be the spin-off of Front Line, which would ease worries of anti-competitive advantages created if Live Nation gained access to the ticketing information of competitors. Concessions are a regular part of gaining regulatory approval for mergers and acquisitions. Universal Music Group's acquisition of BMG Publishing in 2007, for example, required the disbursement of some publishing assets (Rondor U.K., Zomba U.K., BBC Music, and others) to appease European Union antitrust authorities.
(Wall Street Journal)

-- Not sure what net neutrality means? The New Republic has a good overview that identifies implications for record labels and describes the political issues. An excerpt: "We now live in a world where the technology for watching what people do with their data packets is sophisticated enough to give a company like Comcast the ability to decide which packets can be shuffled into slower or faster traffic lanes, depending on what its business model dictates. And, in addition to having the technical ability to discriminate, Internet providers now have the legal authority to do so." Since the article was published, a number of mobile carriers responded to FCC Chair Julius Genachowski's call for net neutrality by announcing a new era of openness to competition. AT&T said it will allow Skype and Verizon said it will partner with Google.
(The New Republic)

-- Charles Dunstone, the CEO of British telecom firm TalkTalk, argued against Lord Mandelson's proposed anti-piracy legislation in a post at the company's blog. Not only would the proposals contradict basic human rights, he wrote, but they would be impractical. To illustrate his point, Dunstone told of a TalkTalk Internet security expert who identified 23 wireless connections from a street in Stanmore, Middlesex that were vulnerable to "Wi-Fi hijacking." Those connections were either not secured or used WEP technology. "The clear implication is that millions of people would be at risk of 'superhighway robbery' under Mandelson's plans," he wrote, later adding that "it is absurd to make people, in effect, legally responsible for the traffic on their internet connections and require them to prevent any unauthorised traffic."
(TalkTalkBlog)

-- At the Thursday press conference that announced his return to music, Garth Brooks was talking weighty issues like iTunes and piracy. Brooks on his decision to keep his music off iTunes: "They truly think that they're saving music. I looked at them right across the table with all the love in the world and told them they were killing it. Until we get variable pricing, until we get album-only [downloads], then they are not a true retailer for my stuff, and you won't see my stuff on there."
(USA Today)


-- California Arts Council and Atty. Gen. Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced yesterday the allotment of $549,000 for free and discounted live music performances. The source of the money in this cash-strapped state? The remainder of the state's part of the 2004 price-fixing settlement with the (then) five major distributors and three retail chains (Tower and Musicland, both now gone, and Trans World).
(L.A. Times' Culture Monster blog)

-- The new Lincoln Hall music venue in Chicago is open. The venue, from the owners of the Schuba's venue, has a capacity of 500 (versus about 165 for Schuba's) and a $250,000 sound system.
(Chicago Tribune)

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