Today’s merger is brought to you by…

What is the world coming to?

A LOT seems to be going on these days.

First, Conan O’Brien gets kicked off the Tonight Show, only to be replaced by the aging Jay Leno (who, apparently, didn’t age as fast as NBC predicted). This will surely not work out well. I bet Leno’s popularity is declining by the day.

Next, the Supreme Court approves votes to allow corporations to sponsor politicians. Sure, it’s not direct financing. But this massive change to campaign finance reform will surely make someone regret this decision. Expect a lot of unwanted political advertisements in the coming campaign season.

NOW, our good friends the government approved the merging of Ticketmaster and Livenation. The Justice Department says it will “preserve competition.” You have GOT to be kidding me! This gives the new company, Livenation Entertainment Inc. an 80 percent stranglehold on not just the concert market, but the music business as a whole.

The merger doesn’t significantly expand the market share of either company. Instead, it creates one company that will have a hand in just about every corner of the music business.WSJ

This vertical integration gives one corporation a piece of the pie in just about every aspect of music from ticket sales to artist management and concert promotion.

This might as well be Clear Channel all over again. Which, if you don’t recall from the early ’00s, was the corporate juggernaut of last decade, running the majority of radio stations and live music events, along with all the advertising needed for some good old synergy. The conglomerate’s practices weren’t exactly friendly, and it pretty much forced any significant artist to run with Clear Channel stations and venues for fear of being dropped from of all of the subsidiaries.

Perhaps this was unstoppable, but we have most assuredly created a monster:

Live Nation stages more concerts and concert tours than any other promoter, and owns or operates 75 major venues in the U.S. Ticketmaster sells tickets for the majority of major sports and entertainment venues in the U.S., and has an artist management division that handles the affairs of hundreds of the biggest acts in pop, rock and country. Ticketmaster’s Front Line Management unit represents over 200 acts, ranging from veterans like the Eagles and Journey to newcomers like Miley Cyrus and Kings of Leon. – Wall Street Journal

The only good news? A few restrictions thanks to Obama’s new antitrust chief Christine Varney:

•Livenation Entertainment Inc. will not be able to retaliate against artists that use competitors for ticket services — like when Clear Channel threatened to pull bands like Blink 182 off all its stations in 2001.

•Ticketing and concert promotion will have be sold separately, not as a bundle, within the new company.

•Certain data will not be shared between departments to prevent the stifling of whatever competition is left.

Thank you Corporate America. Let this be known as the beginning of the end.

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