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

-- Continuing its series on executive Q&As on the topic of ad-supported music, Music Ally talks to We7's Steve Purdham. While Purdham's views are already a matter of public record - he may have topped the industry this year in number of times quoted and number of op-eds written - this is worth reading for its insight into the economics of streaming. He calls the freemium model "an incredible dream." He thinks We7 will be profitable near the end of 2010. He calls Spotify "disingenuous" for limiting its advertising right now, since it will eventually have to insert more advertisements (and change its user experience). And he says We7 gets 3.6 advertising opportunities per song. (Music Ally)

-- Consumer protection groups are speaking out against the proposed Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger. The National Consumers League is against the merger in spite of anticipated concessions made by the companies, such as the sale of some assets to ease regulars' worries. "Were this merger to be allowed to proceed," said the NCL's executive director, "it would kill even the modicum of competition that currently exists between the two companies." The Consumer Federation of America warned against "fewer choices and higher prices that would result from this merger." Then again, ticket prices have steadily increased with the competition that currently exists in the marketplace. Primary tickets cost more for many reasons, but the fact is today's ticket prices better reflect how consumers value the concerts. Companies should not be stopped from extracting existing value. On the other hand, the rise of the secondary market has caused the final prices paid by actual attendees to increase, too. Consumer protection groups were fairly quiet as states relaxed laws prohibiting scalping. Those changes paved the way for today's secondary market and higher prices for consumers. So, one has to wonder if these groups are truly against higher prices for consumers or if they would oppose any merger regardless of its benefits or drawbacks. (Ticket News)

-- Are there lessons for the music industry in Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal on Thursday? If anything, it goes to show threatened industries will take bold steps to survive. Record labels are no less threatened than Comcast by technological changes. And they will seek stability through mergers and acquisitions just as Comcast has done here.

In this case, content may not improve a cable company's position. Media companies aspire to find game-changing synergies, but they don't always materialize. After Time Warner Cable was spun off from Time Warner Inc. earlier this year, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said "there were really no operational synergies." And Liberty Media chairman John Malone said today, "What's curious is that the same year Time Warner decides being vertical doesn't make any sense, Brian (Roberts, Comcast's CEO) decides that it does."

Henry Blodget of Silicon Alley Insider says the purchase is a hedge against both rising carriage costs and "the gradual conversion of cable into dumb pipes that just deliver Internet access and IP-video." But as the Wall Street Journal's Matt Phillips pointed out, it is unclear if the strategy will pay off. "Anyone remember AOL Time Warner?" he asked. The merger of AOL and Time Warner, which came at the time "convergence" was a popular goal for media companies, greatly reduced shareholder value and is considered one of the great failed mergers in recent memory.

With this acquisition, convergence is popular once again. But will a media company give Comcast a competitive advantage? A passage from the excellent book "The Curse of the Mogul" is fitting here, for it applies to this and other mergers and acquisitions in the entertainment business: "...the winners will be those who focus on efficient operations and the losers will be those who chase high-priced acquisitions - Internet or otherwise - on the theory that the 'solution' to their problem is to buy growth in the form of higher-growth businesses with questionable synergies."

Follow Billboard senior analyst Glenn Peoples on Twitter at