Ticketmaster Entertainment and Live Nation are scheduled to announce their pending merger Tuesday morning, according to the Wall Street Journal. A source tells Billboard that the boards of both companies met Sunday and approved the deal, but neither company would confirm at press time.

The merger would create the most powerful and influential entity the music business has ever known. As manager, ticketer, venue operator, merchandiser and more, this giant would tap into revenues, if not outright control them, from virtually every source in the chain: live performance, merchandising, ticketing, content, sponsorships, licensing and digital.

Rapino or Azoff?

Questions loom large, but with both sides remaining quiet for now, answers are hard to come by. Among these questions are who would run this new company? Most reports say this would be a merger of equals, but the New York Post reports that Ticketmaster investors would receive about 18% more shares since Live Nation has a larger shareholder base. Sources tell Billboard that Front Line founder/Ticketmaster Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff would be in charge, with Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino reporting to him.

The future of Ticketmaster Entertainment President/COO Sean Moriarty and Ticketmaster chairman Terry Barnes are two big questions, as is how smoothly the corporate culture of the two companies would mesh.

Front Line

Insiders tell Billboard that since Ticketmaster acquired Front Line earlier this year, placing Azoff at the helm of the newly-named Ticketmaster Entertainment, the Front Line culture has become more influential in both internal and external dealings, and Azoff's answer to complaints from the Bruce Springsteen camp's frustrations last week lend credence to that.

Speculation has it that the Ticketmaster name might even be scuttled and, given public perception toward the ticketing giant, an argument could be made for such a move.


Opposition to this merger is likely to come from competitors in the concert promotion and ticketing worlds. Anti-trust issues could well loom, but Live Nation/Ticketmaster is sure to point out that the two companies currently only compete in the realm of ticketing, with Ticketmaster being larger by far. Ticketmaster is not a promoter in North America (though did acquire a Chinese concert promoter). Live Nation is not a manager, but they have have secured long-term multi-rights deals with some of the biggest artists in the world. In Europe, ticketers and concert promotion companies are often one and the same.

CTS Eventim

Another challenge could come from German businessman Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, executive board chairman at CTS Eventim, Live Nation Ticketing's partner in launching its own global ticketing company. Live Nation is contracted with CTS for the latter to provide ticketing services in North America and Europe, and CTS executives can't be happy hearing that their longtime rival might be coming onboard at Live Nation.

Insiders doubt Ticketmaster and CTS could mesh, so CTS would have to be reckoned with. Schulenberg could not be reached at phone by press time and did not respond to an e-mail.