When Peter Shapiro owned the wetlands, a New York City concert hall where Dave Matthews and Pearl Jam played in the 1990s, there was one sure path to a sellout: team up with Ticketmaster. Fans would line up outside record stores for tickets processed by Ticketmaster or call one of Ticketmaster’s phone banks to score seats. No other distributor had the worldwide labyrinth of retail partnerships and phone outlets to move millions of tickets in minutes. And they charged for it–as much as $15 on a $50 ticket. But the music industry, if you hadn’t noticed, isn’t quite what it used to be. Just as personal computers are replacing record stores and downloads will soon outpace CD sales, ticketing is experiencing a transformation all its own. “The Internet is the great equalizer,” says Shapiro. . .

A decade after Pearl Jam’s failed “Ticketbastard” crusade against the ticketing giant, the Web is doing what lawsuits couldn’t: raising the bar with a healthy dose of competition. While Ticketmaster, part of Barry Diller’s Interactive Corp., still dominates the industry–it sold 128 million tickets last year, compared with Tickets.com’s 76 million–it is fending off threats from every direction. Some of its biggest customers–concert promoters and professional sports leagues–are finding ways to sell their own tickets. Smaller ticketing outfits are attracting museums and concert halls with software that gives them closer fan connections. Worst of all, Ticketmaster arrived late to the secondary market–what used to be called scalping–which has gone legit and become very profitable. The result: no ticket is off-limits, and Ticketmaster is scrambling to shore up its once sure thing. (Full Story)

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