There was an almost audible gasp on Music Row when Ticketmaster Entertainment revealed that its Front Line management division had acquired Morris Management Group of Nashville.

Long known as a fiercely independent industry maverick, Dale Morris has managed top country touring artist Kenny Chesney since the beginning of his career and worked with Alabama until the band's retirement in 2004. The firm also represents other stars like Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson.

The Ticketmaster acquisition gives Morris access to a big toy box filled with powerful alliances and sophisticated marketing tools, while it expands Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff's footprint in Nashville. Since Front Line began rolling up management companies in 2005, it has acquired financial stakes in Vector Management (Kid Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Trace Adkins), Spalding Entertainment (Brooks & Dunn) and RPM (former home of Tim McGraw). McGraw recently departed RPM and left longtime manager Scott Siman for Coran Capshaw's Red Light Management (Dave Matthews Band, Phish), a move that also surprised many.

But if losing McGraw came as a blow...

Click here for the full story which includes why Nashville is attracting attention from companies like Front Line, a look at the managers joining forces with larger companies, the ones staying indie and more.