A Peek Into Live Nation's Ticketing Strategy
-- Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino went into some detail about the company's efforts to improve ticket sales at a JP Morgan conference Wednesday. "The good news is the consumer will come if you price it right - even when the economy is stressed." He added that so far, May ticket sales are up 7% year over year, a comment that helped send shares of the company up 9.1% on Wednesday and another 3.9% on Thursday. Shares closed at $11.24 Thursday.
One bold move in Live Nation's effort to open up new sales channels is GrouponLive, its joint venture with Groupon. "Groupon Live is a true standalone company, if you want to call it, but we both own it 50/50," he explained. "They transferred in all of their ticketing business. So whether it's theaters or whoever is selling tickets at Groupon, that AOI [adjusted operating income] goes into this new unit. We transfer our content into that unit in terms of tickets… We're the equity partners that get to participate in all the ticket sales at Groupon."
The move into localized, group discounts came as the company decided to move away from its affiliate program, Rapino said. "We actually found [the affiliate program] very inefficient because we don't really need help selling a Lady Gaga ticket at AOL Music. And we don't need to pay you to link you back to Ticketmaster to sell a Lady Gaga ticket. So we actually took down a lot of those affiliate deals. It saved us about $13 million a year in what we were paying out to affiliates."
And Live Nation is continuing to look at ways to extract some of the value from the secondary ticket market, he said. "We will get into that business, whether it's through dynamic pricing, and we're going to take some of that revenue off the table, whether it's TicketsNow … Groupon is another example."
Walt Mossberg's Tough Tech Justice
-- Few people have the pulse of technology products better than Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal. And so his review of two new music locker services by Google and Amazon makes for good reading. You see, Mossberg doesn't get caught up in hype. He tests products and then gives his "everyman" point of view. So when Mossberg finds a product either easy or hard to use, it's safe to say the average person would arrive at the same conclusion.
Although he found that "both work as advertised," Mossberg favored Amazon's Cloud Drive and Cloud Player because it gives the user more control over what can be uploaded or downloaded. He called Google's Music Beta "rudimentary" because of the upload process - a common sentiment in even positive reviews of the service.
The real message to the record industry can be found in this passage where Mossberg describes the confusing choices and limitations of other music services.
"[T]he access-oriented services, like Rhapsody, Pandora, Slacker and many others, have been held back by a confusing array of pricing schemes and rules, often imposed by the record labels. They can cost $10 or $15 a month, and require Internet access for use of all their capabilities. In some cases, they let you store songs locally for offline use, but the songs become unplayable if you stop paying the monthly fees. Some place limits on things like how many hours of music you can hear a month, how many songs by a given artist can be played in a given time period, or how often a user can skip songs in a playlist or an online radio 'station.'"
Like most people, Mossberg doesn't care why services are priced the way they are, or work they way they do. He just wants them to have simpler pricing and better features. And he's hopeful, concluding that "if the tech and music industries can ever agree, even better options could be ahead." ( All Things D)
Attorneys General Applaud Anti-Piracy Efforts
-- Not only do trade groups support U.S. legislators' efforts to curb digital piracy and the online sale of counterfeit goods, so do 42 state attorneys general. In a letter to Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley and Representatives Lamar Smith and John Conyers, the state law officers commended the legislators' for their "attention to this major problem" and urged Congress to "make the introduction and enactment of rogue site legislation a top priority this year." ( MPAA.org)
Tablets: The High-Tech Teddy Bear?
-- What's the potential for tablets to be great devices for electronic, interactive albums? It depends on how well some people can enjoy an album while watching TV or lying in bed. A new report by Nielsen says 30% of tablet owners' time with the device coincides with watching TV and another 21% while in bed. Both figures are higher than smartphones - 20% of use while watching TV and 11% of use is done in bed - mainly because smartphones are more often used out of the home. Not surprisingly, 37% of time spent with eReaders is in bed, but only 15% while watching TV. ( NielsenWire)