Business Matters is a daily column that offers insight, analysis and opinion on the day's news.

-- The Department of Justice is set to approve the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger as early as this month, according to M&A Web site The Daily Deal. The potential anti-competitive effects of vertical integration, judging from the post, is not much of a concern to the regulators: "Lawyers who asked not to be identified said staff lawyers in the DOJ antitrust division, which has been conducting a year-long review of the deal, were 'unenthused' about pursuing the potential vertical competition threats critics said were posed by pairing the nation's largest ticket seller with the dominant concert promotion company." (The Daily Deal)

-- Entertainment retailer Trans World Entertainment experienced an improved yet challenging 2009 holiday season. In a Wednesday morning press release, the company revealed its comp store sales were down 5% in the five-week period ending January 5, 2010 and down 8% in the nine-week period ending January 2, 2010. Total sales for the five-week period were down 16%, a reflection of both weaker sales and 12% fewer stores in operation. In the previous holiday sales period, Trans World's comp store sales dropped 12% in the five-week period and 24% in the nine-week period. Total sales fell 22% during the five-week period, a steeper drop because the company had cut about a fifth of its stores from the prior year.

While the 5% drop in the five-week period is a big improvement and offers a much-needed indication the company's turnaround efforts are bearing fruit. That said, total sales are still down 18% over the trailing 11 months and the company is facing yet another net loss for its fiscal year (which closes at the end of this month). (Press release)

-- The Echo Nest, a music intelligence company that powers digital music applications, has landed $1.3 million in funding. The round of financing included 14 investors and was led by Commonwealth Capital Ventures. The company, founded by two MIT PhD students, announced its first round of funding, also from Commonwealth Capital Ventures, in September 2008. (Boston Business Journal)

-- It is common knowledge, at least in some corners of Internet punditry, that consumers no longer want to pay for music. Music must be free, right? Not quite. Music doesn't need to be free as long as people are still willing to pay for it. And according to Nielsen, consumers are still willing to pay for music. It turns out 57% of global online consumers have or would consider paying for music. Now, 57% may seem low, but it tied with theatrical movies for the No. 1 spot on a list of media products. Games was third at 51%, magazines were fifth at 49%, newspapers were sixth at 42% and radio was eighth at 32%. (NielsenWire)

-- Spotify, the next big thing in digital music, admitted to BBC News that it is not yet turning a profit. "We're not profitable yet but we're certainly seeing pretty stellar growth in revenues through the recession," said Spotify spokesman Paul Brown. He added that Spotify has "several hundred thousand" paying subscribers as well as advertising revenue. "We've been doing in excess of a million Euros a month, and counting, on the ad revenue side. To be in double digit million turnover after a year is pretty good." (BBC)

-- Shazam settles patent infringement case with Tune Hunter, according to tech blog Techcrunch. Shazam was one of many companies sued - others included LG, Apple and Motorola - in May 2009 over a music identification system patent. Shazam is the first defendant to settle. (Techcrunch)

-- Philadelphia music venue the Khyber is reportedly for sale. (Philadelphia Weekly)

-- Music-related stocks on Wednesday, January 6 (closing prices and percent change): Warner Music Group (WMG): $5.69 (-0.49%); Vivendi (VIV): €21.17 (-1.07%); Sony Corp. (SNE): $29.85 (-0.10%); Live Nation (LYV): $9.95 (+6.42%); Ticketmaster (TKTM): $14.31 (+4.53%); Trans World (TWMC): $1.51 (-5.63%); Sirius XM Radio (SIRI): $0.688 (+0.22%); Cumulus Media (CMLS): $2.37 (+1.72%); Citadel Broadcasting Corp. (CTDB): $0.027 (+28.57%); RealNetworks (RNWK): $3.87 (-1.28%); Apple (AAPL): $210.97 (+1.59%); Dow Jones Industrial (DJI): 10,573.68 (+0.02%); NASDAQ Composite (IXIC): 2,301.09 (-0.33%).

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