Live Nation has really been on the Internet business rampage lately. Since the official spin-off from Clear Channel late in 2005, the concert industry giant has become much more focused on its Internet businesses with CEO Michael Rapino at the helm. Just a few weeks ago, Live Nation announced a partnership with music social networking and discovery site, Last.fm; a really smart move for both companies. It allows Live Nation to offer concert listings and ticket sale options for millions of avid music fans who are tapped into the Last.fm network. It also gives Last.fm another way to monetize its fan network.
But that move was just the beginning…
Just last week at the “Music 2.0 Conference” in LA, Live Nation also discussed a new online business concept they described as a “MySpace for venues.” Apparently, the site will offer an online space for venues both large and small (not just the large arenas and House of Blues venues controlled by Live Nation). The space will include ticket sale options through Ticketmaster and more interactive listings (and apparently Live nation already has set up RSS feeds for venues on its website which was news to me; cool!).
Perhaps even more significant, but less noticeable, was Live Nation’s recent purchase of MusicToday (featured in-depth in FastCompany magazine). MusicToday is a sort of “jack-of-all-trades” artist services company that probably works with the majority of bands covered on this site. The direction this company is going definitely gives us some insight into Live Nation’s plans to dominate the concert industry via the web and make solid moves into the more mid-sized clubs (as we know, Live Nation also bought the House of Blues chain this past year).
But there was one item buried in that FastCompany article that really piqued my interest. Apparently, Live Nation’s contract with Ticketmaster is set to expire next year, which has me thinking that they might be making moves to get into the ticket sales market themselves. While I don’t know if a Live Nation ticket retailer would be the answer to all our problems, I think that any type of significant competition to the infamous TicketBastard would be a good thing for live music fans.
We’re likely to hear a lot more from Live Nation this week, as the annual Concert Industry Consortium kicks off in LA on Tuesday. Last year’s conference included a passionate keynote speech from Live Nation’s CEO in which he discussed the need to focus on “the fan,” gave a shout-out to the Grateful Dead, and spouted some surprising statistics about Americans lacking attendance of concerts (about 71% of Americans don’t even attend concerts, and the majority of those who do go to concerts average less than 2 shows a year).
Those stats are exactly the reason all of this should matter to folks who read this site. All these business models and buy-outs will at some point affect your concert experiences for better or worse. While some might see this as another corporate attempt to commoditize the live music experience, I think it also represents the potential of some really cool developments as these changes move forward. Listening to Michael Rapino’s speech again made me immediately think of the bands and fans that are covered by Live Music Blog. We are exactly the type of avid music fanatics that these guys are looking for…we’re not your average consumers of live music. So these companies should be doing the things we want and need to make our experiences better.
They need to make it easier, cheaper and more efficient for me to collect concert information and buy tickets! They need to have functional online spaces that do more than just list concerts, but work with music blogs, fan message boards, and all the new web 2.0 gadgets and services. Some of the moves by Live Nation above are on this track, but there’s plenty more progress to be made (hello Pollstar!?!?!).
Over the next few days and weeks, I’ll be looking into a few other happenings in the online concert industry / live music space. Let us know if you think it’s worth pursuing any further, because we sure as hell do…
For coverage of the this week’s Concert Industry Consortium, check out the Hypebot blog
“Way Behind the Music” [Fast Company] Interview with LIve Nation CEO, Michael Rapino [Fast Company] Read or Listen to Michael Rapino’s Keynote address at the 2006 Concert Industry Consortium [Pollstar]