The Live Nation/I.M.P. Wars Are Not Over
It's a big day for concert behemoth Live Nation: The company announced the first handful of shows at its new Fillmore venue in Silver Spring. It's also been an ugly week: The company is engaged in an astroturf battle with online ticket reseller StubHub. Live Nation started a non-profit called the Fans First Coalition, StubHub started the similarly named Fan Freedom Project, and the two have been scrapping over control of the legal ticket-scalping market. Both groups claim to speak for consumers; neither group is especially palatable. Making things even uglier is the fact that Live Nation isn't exactly being altruistic: Its Ticketmaster division owns the smaller ticket resellers TicketsNow and TicketsExchange. Neither group wants a ban on scalping; Live Nation wants an allowance for paperless ticketing—meaning, you pick up your ticket by presenting your credit card at the venue—that could cripple a third-party reseller like StubHub.
Wading into the fray? Seth Hurwitz, owner of local promoter I.M.P. and a frequent legal opponent of Live Nation. The Fillmore Silver Spring is poised to be a major competitor to the I.M.P.-booked 9:30 Club.
In an interview with TicketNews, Hurwitz aims some pointed arrows at Live Nation over its Fans First campaign, which he says approached him about joining its coalition. "My first reaction was are you kidding me? Why are you asking me? Have you stopped scalping tickets, and of course the answer was no," Hurwitz tells TicketNews. "That's like Peta sponsoring a Ted Nugent tour. With a taxidermy business on the side, for animals killed the 'right' way. It's absurd."
Hurwitz tells TicketNews that his opposition to Fans First Coalition has nothing to do with his ongoing legal battle with Live Nation—OK, fair enough. But although one lawsuit was dismissed in March, I.M.P. still has a pending antitrust suit against Live Nation.
Expect more on all of this soon.