WSJ Breaks ‘Project Showtime’

A jolting Wall Street Journal story reports that, before Ticketmaster talked merger with Live Nation, there was “Project Showtime,” an effort by Irving Azoff, TM execs, AEG Live, MSG and ticket brokers to come together as one.

The failed alliance, which was attempted in the summer of 2007, was motivated by Live Nation’s break from Ticketmaster and its ultimate goal of controlling its own ticketing system, according to the WSJ. By bringing various scalpers on board, the major promoters would be able to offset Live Nation’s revenue, and divvy the rewards with artists and venues.

The project fell apart because of mutual distrust among the major players, according to the paper but “the plan sheds light on the motives behind the current merger, whose antitrust implications are currently under review by the Justice Department.”

The article can be accessed here

Azoff, as head of Front Line Management, called together a meeting of the families at Ticketmaster’s West Hollywood, Calif., office. Along with AEG, TM and MSG, those reportedly in attendance included brokers Ace Ticket, Barry’s Tickets, Total Tickets, Gold Coast Tickets, Elite Ticket Service and Alliance Tickets.

According to one source, Azoff and other execs emphasized “how big it was going to be, how it was going to crush Live Nation.” There was talk of “lots and lots” of money.

More so, Van Halen was reportedly used as a trial balloon. Up to 500 choice seats at each of about 20 concerts were taken off the market and resold through secondary ticketing sources, the WSJ said. The brokers kept 30 percent of the markup and the remainder was sent to TM, the band and its representatives, with VH netting $1 million or even more.

Representatives for Live Nation and AEG declined to comment for the article.