For years there has been one company which has had a strong grip on all primary ticket sales for events across the country. But now that company, Ticketmaster, is beginning to see its hold on the market begin to slightly weaken. Venues are beginning to cut ties with Ticketmaster, and turn to companies like Live Nation, which late last year announced it will be starting its own ticketing outlet when its contract with the ticketing giant expires in 2009. The two companies will continue to work together at some venues.

Currently representing more than 15 percent of Ticketmaster’s $1 billion annual revenue, Live Nation is the largest concert promoter in the country and is looking to get bigger. Major performers and major money makers U2 and Madonna signed highly publicized long term exclusive deals with Live Nation, and Jay-Z is reportedly negotiating with the company. As the months go on, Live Nation will be looking to add more performers and more venues to its repertoire.

As venues start to end relationships with Ticketmaster here and there, the sticking point for many of them are complaints about the additional service fees that are tacked onto ticket prices. According to a story in the Chicago Sun-Times, concert hot-spot Metro in the windy city was one of the latest to drop its contract with Ticketmaster due to what it explained were “customer requests and technological advances.”

Ticketmaster CEO Sean Moriarty called his company, “one of the most misunderstood well-known companies out there,” at the South by Southwest music conference adding that service fees are a necessity just like ones added for amenities like cable television and ATMs.

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Even if that is the case, Live Nation is making strides to separate itself from the stigma attached to the service fees with its subsidiary House of Blues selling tickets at their box offices with no service fees at all. Whether or not Live Nation will follow a similar policy, when it officially splits from the ticket giant in 2009, remains to be seen.

As Live Nation and other ticket services begin to chip away at the profits of Ticketmaster and provide more competition, how tickets are sold could begin to change. The secondary market continues to grow and now Ticketmaster has been making strides to take a stranglehold over it as well. They have already completed a deal for the secondary market company and are lobbying to change laws to only allow the original seller of the ticket to resell that ticket.

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