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“With the almost complete collapse of the ability to monetize recorded music, we think this model will allow artists to control their fate along several product lines within the music business."
——Azoff
AZOFF, RAPINO TALK TO THE TIMES
The L.A. Paper’s Sectional Shift Reminds Us That This Is About Music as Well as Business
The Ticketmaster Entertainment-Live Nation merger moved from the L.A. Times Business section to Calendar this morning, as Randy Lewis, who usually covers country and folk artists, interviewed Irving Azoff and Michael Rapino.

The focus of the reporter’s questioning ranged from the task of getting regulatory approval—as the Justice Department announced it will conduct an investigation to consider the monopoly issue—and the PR challenge posed by years of bitterness and frustration on the parts of ticket-buying fans toward Ticketmaster prior to Azoff’s arrival.

”Azoff and Rapino speak of the new company's giving them greater flexibility to allow consumers to create customized packages with whatever products or services they want from a given artist,” Lewis theorized, listing tickets, merch, downloads, ringtones, access at soundchecks and meet-and-greets. “It's not out of the realm of possibility that some of these ideas might pay off for fans,” he added.

Here’s what they had to say to Lewis:

Rapino: "Calling the new company Live Nation Entertainment is a big statement. Let's make sure we send a strong message from the first investor call. . . . There's no way around it, we've got to build a better mousetrap to compete in today's times."

Azoff: "The government is saying, 'If our economic stimulus plan works, this is what will happen. If our plan happens…it can, should and will result in lower ticket prices in the primary market. If that plan fails to come to pass, artists, consumers and the industry will not be the better for it."

Azoff: "The system is broken. This is about being in the music business—not just the record business, not just touring, not just ticketing. With the almost complete collapse of the ability to monetize recorded music, we think this model will allow artists to control their fate along several product lines within the music business."

Rapino: "The first question is, if we don't do something, where will the innovation come from?" Rapino said. "I'm not saying I have four silver bullets that will make everybody happy. But the model has got to change."

Azoff: "We're not looking to gouge the public with higher ticket prices. We want to sell more tickets and have the full dollars [from sold-out shows] available to distribute."

Rapino: "In my business, the cheaper the ticket price the better. I'd love for more consumers to walk into an amphitheater, park, have a beer and eat a hot dog. There's no advantage to me to have anything but sold-out shows."

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