Outside Lands Eager Beaver Tix Sold Out ALREADY

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As of 12:36 p.m. Friday March 16, I can’t find any information or news on this other than Ticketmaster continuing to show me “no tickets available.”

Until I check sfoutsidelands.com, where I am saddened with the news that the cheapest and earliest accessible tickets are ALREADY sold out. Tickets went on sale at noon, and by a mere 36 minutes later, I came up empty.

The San Francisco Outside Lands Music Food Wine and Art Festival dates were recently announced — August 10-12, 2012 in Golden Gate Park. The Friday thru Sunday summer festival was offering Eager Beaver three-day passes for $165 and without even seeing the lineup, I was ready to go.

My girlfriend and I attended one year and I joined some friends in going to one day of the inaugural festival in 2008, the one and only time in my life I’ve seen Radiohead.

And the year I went with my girlfriend — 2010 I believe — I experienced Tenacious D. Another all-time favorite band of mine.

Sure, I could pay $52.70 ($42.50 + $10.20 in Ticketmaster fees) to see Tenacious D in Oakland at the Fox Theater on May 24 or $81.75 ($66.50 + $15.25 in Ticketmaster fees) to see Radiohead at the HP Pavilion on April 11. But that’s a lot of dough to stand alongside never-ending throngs of people, not to mention the hassle of transportation and price-gouged corporate parking (at least in the case of the Radiohead show).

So, I pass.

[P.S. Ain’t it cute how Ticketmaster is “transparent” with their fees now? They’re more explicit in showing you the additional amount you’re paying, which is admittedly nice; but still charge absorbitant amounts for no good reason!]

I’ll take a $15 club San Francisco show at Rickshaw Stop, The Independent, Great American Music Hall, Cafe Du Nord or the like any day.

But since moving back to the Bay 6 months ago and public transporting myself around in the city with my lady, Outside Lands is a definite must this year. It beats the Coachella heat, and with no travel expenses and (hopefully) a similarly great lineup, a festival experience tends to be worth it.

It does take energy, stamina and willingness to not get stressed out trying to catch every single band you want to see. But you get up close to the up and comers, and get to say you saw (or at least heard) some of the greats.

Hopefully the next batch of tickets that go on sale aren’t too much more. I’m expecting $199 instead of $165. Yargh.

What is this? A corporatocracy?

Today, our good friends in the government approved the merging of Ticketmaster and Livenation. The Justice Department, who oversees antitrust policy, says the joint will “preserve competition.”

I sincerely hope they are kidding. If we’re lucky enough to see ticket prices go down, the fees will surely only go up.

The latest in major corporate mergers 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.

It 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, (still) running the majority of radio stations and live music events, along with all the advertising needed to create one giant load of 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.

For a much more recent example, we need only look back a little more than a month. General Electric just sold NBC Universal to Comcast on Dec. 9. With 51 percent in Comcast’s pockets (49 percent is still owned by G.E.), the nation’s largest cable provider now has even more power over what transmits through our tubes and how much it costs.

Consumer choice seems all but lost.

Perhaps today’s merger was unstoppable, but we have most assuredly created one more 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.

Somehow, I get the feeling government isn’t really working these days. This is a failure of Washington on multiple fronts. These massive mergers are textbook cases for what our country’s antitrust laws are supposed to prevent.

Read the laws for yourself: http://www.ftc.gov/bc/antitrust/antitrust_laws.shtm

“…Certain acts are considered so harmful to competition that they are almost always illegal.”

So much for that.

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.