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In true punk fashion DC concert promoter Seth Hurwitz is rising up against the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster. Hurwitz and his company It's My Party filed an 11-count lawsuit seeking to block the merger and charged that Live Nation has been acting like a monopoly. Or in layman's terms–they're bullies. In an attempt to improve their current PR status, Live Nation has created“No Service Wednesdays.”On those days consumers can purchase tickets without the service fees. It's only one day a week, but it's a start.

A recent examination of ticket sales from Bruce Springsteen's Meadowlands concerts showed that The Boss held back 2200 tickets from being sold. 90% of the best seats were reserved for friends and family of the band, venue employees, record-label executives and their guests. Jim and Greg point out that this is not news and does not make Springsteen complicit with scalping. But, he's helping those scalpers to mark up prices by making the tickets themselves so rare.

Vinyl sales continue to soar. There was a 50% increase this year, and SoundScan predicts sales will hit almost 3 million this year. That's just a blip compared to the 120 million CDs that will be sold, but any good news is welcome for the music industry.

Go to episode 186

Music News

Last week Jim and Greg endured what is always a career low-point for them: the multi-hour Grammy broadcast. While they are all in favor of honoring artistic achievement, Jim and Greg explain that the Grammys only presented 9 actual awards last week. For the most part, it's a show of celebrity spectacle, and one that rakes in big ratings. Of the winners, Beyonce took the most awards home. But, she lost Album of the Year to newcomer Taylor Swift. Jim and Greg wouldn't fight for any of the nominees to win, and instead point to the Village Voice Pazz and Jop poll as a better measure of the year's best albums.

Despite winning Album of the Year and having the top-selling album of 2009, Taylor Swift hasn't gotten a lot of Sound Opinions airtime. Jim and Greg give a quick listen to Fearless to see if it's worth the hype. Jim isn‘t sure she’s the most interesting role-model for teenage girls, and doesn‘t think she’d have such acclaim if she wasn‘t quite the looker. But, Greg hears a lot of relatable content on her album. He thinks she could develop into a credible artist, but for now she’s just a tween, not a queen.

Last week Jim and Greg reported on the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster. This week they check in with Seth Hurwitz, one of the country's leading independent promoters and owner of the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. Hurwitz testified at the Senate hearings on the merger last year and expressed concern over lack of competition in the industry. Now his concerns are reality. As he explains to Jim and Greg, the agreement's monopoly firewalls provide no consolation. And while Hurwitz feels secure in his business for the time being, he's worried about a time when Live Nation/Ticketmaster scoops up all of the mid-level acts that have so far avoided corporate arenas. He also warns about major ticket price increases.

Go to episode 219

Music News

This week the White House made its first official statement on intellectual property and piracy. Victoria Espinel, the Obama-appointed Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, has outlined more than 30 steps on how to toughen up when it comes to protecting intellectual property. According to Jim and Greg, some of the steps are fairly routine, and they were relieved to see no“3 strikes”approach. But other recommendations display a hard-line view of piracy–one that lines up with those of Vice President Biden.

On Monday the Justice Department officially gave its blessing to the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger despite pleas against it from independent promoters and consumer advocates. Check out Jim's take on the merger and listen to Seth Hurwitz, one of the promoters who testified against the merger, (on Sound Opinions.)

Jim and Greg wrap up the news by discussing the state of the estate of Michael Jackson. Since the King of Pop's death a year ago, Billboard estimates his estate has made $1 billion. 40% of that has gone toward debts, but as Jim and Greg note, the revenue stream isn't likely to slow down anytime soon. Fans can expect release after posthumous release of Jackson albums, books and movies for years to come.

Go to episode 239