Too Drunk To Dream

…ain’t no drinking when the bottle’s dry…

Ticketmaster CEO gives South by Southwest the runaround

from Greg Kot’s blog: http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/turn_it_up/2008/03/ticketmaster-ce.html#more

Ticketmaster CEO gives South by Southwest the runaround

AUSTIN, TEXAS— If nothing else, the South by Southwest Music Conference offers a rare opportunity to hear some of the industry’s biggest behind-the-scenes players talk on the record and at length about what they do.

This year, the primary charmer was Seymour Stein, the man who signed both the Ramones and Madonna. Stein’s affability and off-the-cuff anecdotes stood in stark contrast to Ticketmaster CEO Sean Moriarty.

Moriarty was interviewed Friday by the Wall Street Journal’s Ethan Smith, who spent about an hour figuratively beating his head against an immovable object. Smith is a skilled reporter, but his questions were batted away with a mixture of arrogance and vagueness. I almost felt sorry for Smith. No matter how he phrased a question, no matter how many questions he asked, Moriarty responded with the same numbing corporate-speak. The audience did no better when given an opportunity to pry loose some insight into the inner-workings of the world’s largest ticketing company.

Moriarty was presented a grand opportunity to make a case for Ticketmaster as a company that doesn’t deserve its reputation for gouging consumers and kicking back the spoils to its clients. But his responses were the equivalent of a carefully tailored corporate press release that pretends to say something profound while in reality thumbing its nose at the recipient:

Ticket prices and fees are determined by “people’s willingness to pay for them.”

The reasons behind high service fees “are more complex than people know.”

People who complain about high service fees “don’t understand the underlying infrastructure.”

Even though concert promoter Live Nation will soon disconnect from Ticketmaster, and in the process take away 15 percent of its business, “competition is good for consumers and good for business.”

“Being a lightning rod [for criticism] is not a good service business to be in… It’s a detriment to the brand.”

Moriarty managed to veer from the stock answers only when talking about the lucrative secondary ticket market, in which brokers resell tickets for big events at huge mark-ups. The CEO was unusually transparent in his desire to cash in on the “multibillion-dollar global opportunity” presented overseas, following Ticketmaster’s recent purchase of TicketsNow, the nation’s second largest secondary-ticket outlet. For Ticketmaster, the resale market is one in which “we can and should have category leadership.”

Now there’s something to dread.

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March 16, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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