Ticketmaster's pre-emptive strike in the form of an internal e-mail calling a new deal with Live Nation "doubtful" could signal a new world order in the critical live-event ticketing space.

The stakes are incredibly high for both sides, and the industry has been anxiously awaiting repercussions of what by all accounts have been tense negotiations (Billboard, July 28). Now an internal Ticketmaster memo, first broken on billboard.biz suggests the 10-year-old contract between Ticketmaster and Live Nation is on thin ice, and will not be renewed when it expires at the end of next year.

The memo states, in part, "While it has been our sincere desire to create a new long term partnership [with Live Nation], we now believe it is doubtful we will extend our agreement when it expires at the end of 2008. Live Nation has been a valued client for a very long time and we believe we've taken every reasonable step possible to facilitate a renewal, but they seem intent on a direction for their business that leaves us no viable way to work together."

The contract between Ticketmaster and Live Nation dates back to 1998 and Live Nation's predecessor, SFX Entertainment. Venues acquired as part of Live Nation's House of Blues acquisition last year are contracted with Ticketmaster through 2009.

Read the current issue of Billboard to see how the likely fallout for the two companies, and for their customers, shakes out.