-- The reverberations from last week’s Live Nation investor presentation continue. At the Wall Street Journal, Martin Peers reflects on last Thursday’s event and the reasons for investors’ worries.
“It isn't uncommon for companies to disclose that earnings may be lower than previously projected. But it is less common for an executive chairman to turn hostile, as an irritated Irving Azoff did in telling investors he hoped signs they were selling didn't indicate Live Nation had a group of ‘shortsighted’ investors. The selloff since Thursday has taken Live Nation stock down more than 20%.”

Peers mentions a few of the presentation’s obvious problems but wisely acknowledges the company’s issues go well beyond a poorly executed investor presentation.

Quite simply, Live Nation needs to justify its rationale for the merger. How is a promoter that rarely turned a profit in the last five years going to capitalize on a merger with a higher-margin ticketing company that has enjoyed rising concert ticket prices but not increase in volume in recent years? Last week’s presentation was filled with plans for growth that don’t require a merger. Increasing the promoter’s presence in foreign markets and introducing new e-commerce initiatives are things Live Nation could have done without Ticketmaster. Aside from the cost savings from replacing Live Nation’s young ticketing division with Ticketmaster, the company has not clearly and convincingly communicated how it will benefit from the vertical integration. Investors aren’t seeing synergies, they’re seeing potential conflicts and divisions operating in silos.

“Mr. Rapino told investors he wanted Live Nation to be ‘transparent’ in its dealings with investors,” Peers concluded. “That is a laudable goal. But transparency isn't enough. Investors have to like what they see. So far, the picture isn't looking too hopeful.”(Wall Street Journal)

-- Ticketmaster has changed the commission structure for presales through its affiliate programs. Effective July 26, the company will no longer award commissions for presale purchases made within 24 hours of the time tickets go on sale to the general public. “This decision is intended to keep presales exclusive to our sponsors (fan clubs, promoters, radio stations, etc.), and focus our affiliate program on selling tickets available after the first 24 hours,” states the email. (TicketNews)

-- New York-based SeatGeek, a secondary market ticket price forecaster and aggregator, has raised $1 million in first-round funding. The round was led by Founder Collective, which had previously invested in Get Me In! (acquired by Ticketmaster in 2008), and jointed by NYC Seed. SeatGeak was founded in 2009 and was incubated at the startup accelerator program Dreamit Ventures. It allows the user to look at historical trends for an event’s ticket price and forecasts when to buy based on the movement of prices. (Press release, SeatGeek.com)

-- According to an email from the League of American Orchestras, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has pledged that processing times for regularly-filed artist visa petitions will not exceed 14 days. Problems with artist visas have been a constant criticism for several years. Two years ago, the House passed The Artists Require Timely Service Act (H.R. 1785) that would have provided a faster and cheaper application process. The Senate version (S. 1409) never made it out of committee. So, the bill was never passed into law and has not been re-introduced in the following session of Congress. (Daily Swarm, Soundcheck)

-- A groundbreaking ceremony for the Fillmore venue in Silver Springs, Maryland is slated for September 11. The venue will be 34,000 square feet and 45-feet high. The development includes a hotel and office project as well. Live Nation is putting $2 million toward the venue, which will be housed in a former JC Penny department store. The county and state will each provide $4 million for the venue. (Gazette)

-- It seems there has been talk that broadcasters will settle with record labels on performance royalties. The debate was sparked by comments made last week by a radio executive. From Broadcast Law Blog:
“The latest controversy was set off by comments made (last Friday) at the Conclave Radio Conference by Bonneville Radio's CEO Bruce Reese… who suggested that broadcasters were on the defensive in Congress, and that a good settlement was better than a bad legislative outcome. Other broadcasters have disagreed with Reese's assessment, asking why broadcasters would be willing to settle when they have a majority of Congress on their said, having signed the NAB-supported resolution opposing the royalty.” Why would a settlement be desirable for broadcasters? Reese thinks over the long term the odds are against broadcasters because Congressional sentiment in favor of record labels. Broadcast Law Blog explains a settlement could include some concessions such as reduced streaming royalties and other digital uses. (Broadcast Law Blog, Radio-Info.com)

-- Go to a music industry conference and you’re likely to hear that people – especially younger consumers – no longer listen to the radio. According to Nielsen’s spring study, that’s hardly the case. Nielsen’s numbers show radio listenership has been stable over the last 12 months. The 25-54 demographic had a weekly reach of 95%, up from 94.2% last year. Its weekly time spent listening was 24:23, up from 23:41. The 18-34 demographic had a weekly reach of 92.8%, up from 91.8%. Its weekly time spent listening was 22:29, up from 21:32. (Nielsen)

Assorted Links
-- Jack White talks about Third Man Records. (BBC News)
-- YouTube will live stream the August 5th Arcade Fire concert at Madison Square Garden. (Brooklyn Vegan)
-- A positive review of Motorola’s new Droid X smartphone. (Ars Technica)