Yesterday when I labeled Billy Corgan as “possibly the biggest hypocrite in music,” a few people chose to focus upon certain passages (within 1100+ words) and decided that I was totally against Corgan making a buck on his old music. Nothing could be further from the truth, for I was considering Corgan’s self-contradictory statements and practices about “selling out” as evidence of his overall hypocrisy–includes his very public support of the proposed Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger–which shall soon be decided upon by Congress, who obviously doesn’t have enough shit to sort out at the moment. However, in a somewhat unexpected move, Lars Ulrich of Metallica is opposing the merger:
“We haven’t sold out to Live Nation, and we are certainly not planning on it,” Ulrich said. “And we are very, very fortunate that we do not need what they offer to continue to be who we are. Certainly, some of the practices that come in the wake of this — like direct reselling and all the stuff that Bruce [Springsteen] was up against in January and some of these other things — obviously are very distasteful, and downright . . . it’s just ripping people off,” he added. “It’s impure. So obviously I’d stand up and scream from every rooftop that I think that’s . . . impure.”
Naturally, thanks to the Ticketmaster lobbyists, the details of this proposed merger are a bit complicated (not to mention rather dry), so it’s hard to sort out which side is telling the truth. Thankfully, Crave Online wrote a great article on this topic, which includes reaction to Trent Reznor’s thoughts on ticket scalping (a must read) and extracts the necessary information involved with the proposed merger:
As nucleus and mastermind of Nine Inch Nails, [Trent] Reznor has become the poster boy for modern artist etiquette, having paved the way for an entirely new music business attitude through forward-thinking marketing concepts that not only center on communicating with fans directly, but empathize with the average music lover. He believes music should be accessible, and concert ticket prices should be reasonable. A fundamentally appealing concept, but clearly an unpopular one among those holding the reins of the industry today.
If Congress approves the proposed Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger and the former duly proceeds to absorb the latter, Ticketmaster will be so bloody powerful (literally holding the golden ticket) that concert ticket sales will then operate under a veritable monopoly system. Of course, the arguments in favor of the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger speak under the guise of a “market-based pricing scheme,” which initially sounds lovely to a capitalist like myself, but there’s something far more sinister at work here. Ticketmaster, which has already acquired TicketsNow (a reseller), operates under corrupt practices by fudging ticket prices while still, technically, keeping ahold of its own ticket inventory. Check this shit out:
Leonard Cohen tickets, which recently sold out with suspicious immediacy on Ticketmaster for $99-$250, popped up simultaneously on TicketsNow for up to $856 per ticket. Hell of a mark-up, no? It sure is- but that ridiculous price isn’t what you’ll be paying. No sir. With a service charge of up to $128 per ticket, among other ambiguous, unexplained fees (what the hell is a building facility charge?), you’re looking at a total of close to $1,000. Per ticket.
Next comes a discussion about Reznor’s analysis of how some artists justify ripping off their own concertgoers:
Reznor’s hypothetical counter-argument is a valid one, however: “If people are willing to pay a lot of money to sit up front AND ARE GOING TO ANYWAY thanks to the rigged system, why let that money go into the hands of the scalpers? I’m the one busting my ass up there every night.” According to several managers of top artists and Ticketmaster execs, that’s exactly the mentality that draws their clientele into the arrangements. The company regularly offers to list hundreds of the best tickets for each concert on one of its two resale Web sites. They then divide the extra revenue, which can top $2 million [on a nightly basis] on a major-name tour, with artists and promoters- depending on who’s in on the scheme.
Keep in mind that this extra $2 million per concert is in addition to the several hundred thousands of dollars that such large-name artists are already rightfully earning (without dropping to the level of Ticketmaster and its alleged racketeering practices). That would be an extra $2 million per evening.
Corgan’s philosophy seems to be that fans should allow companies that have thrived on greed and price-jacking for years to gain a greater control of the concert market. Live Nation telling Ticketmaster to reduce prices and stop treating customers like shit isn’t a far cry from O.J. telling Chris Brown to “ease up on the girl.” Essentially, all you need to know about Corgan’s motives lies in the money trail: the CEO of Ticketmaster, Irving Azoff, just so happens to manage the Smashing Pumpkins.
For two decades, Ticketmaster has gotten away with charging concert fees far beyond the pale in terms of corporate profitability. They’ve clearly gotten too top-heavy for the good of the public, yet the merger looms large . . . . [O]ne thing is for sure- no matter what Billy Corgan may be trying to sell you, the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger is a nightmare scenario that will eventually cripple the current structure of the live concert business.
The funniest thing about Corgan’s self-righteous support of the merger is that, when some fans are already paying Ticketmaster $1000 per ticket, Corgan still manages to act all pissed off and offended when these same fans want Smashing Pumpkins to play some of their greatest hits. To quote Corgan himself, when it comes to these fans, “The word is called entitled.” Seriously, Corgan thinks these fans are acting as if they’re entitled? Let me remind you that this hypocritical statement is coming from a guy who, lately, has decided that he wants to make a few bucks off his old music. Look Corgan, you just can’t have it both ways and still worship at the altar of “artistic” integrity. It’s just not possible.
So, compared to Billy Corgan, Lars Ulrich is pretty much looking like a prince here. In fact, when one also considers Ulrich’s expression of regret over the Napster scandal, I can even overlook that whole autographed sewing machine auction madness.