One big, happy, musical family

Hey, Madonna meet Miley Cyrus. Jay-Z, these are the Eagles. You all could be one big happy family. Sort of like the Brady Bunch.  Or the Partridge family!

Only, however, if merger talks talks between Ticketmaster Entertainment and Live Nation result in a deal — and if that deal isn’t blocked by regulators worried about too few power players in the ticket  

Here’s what we reported: A source briefed on the matter told Reuters that talks are at an advanced stage, but could still fall apart over issues such as management control.

 Another hurdle would be competition issues because such a merger would concentrate power in the music industry under one roof.

 One music label source said the deal will “face major antitrust issues from managers, record companies, ticketing companies and concert promoters to name a few — not to mention the Obama administration will be very tough on this stuff.”

from Summit Notebook:

Mattresses and pillows, a diversified portfolio

With financial markets in turmoil and the U.S. economy in recession, we asked top entertainment and sports executives at the Reuters Media Summit for some investment advice.

Our question: "If we gave you $50,000, where would you invest?" One rule: They couldn't pick their own company. But then we thought $50,000 was too little for well heeled executives, so we switched it to $50 million. But that seemed excessive. After all, we're talking about personal investments -- so we settled on giving them a cool $1 million.

Here's what they said:

"In a pillow ... You might look at the energy sector, you might see what happens with gold. I've got cousins who work in the banking industry. When I asked them, they told me put it in my pillow. That is your answer."
-- Havas's MPG Chief Operating Officer Steve Lanzano

Sports and economy square off

Sorting out what the economic downturn means for the sports world has become something of a sport itself.

Will consumers’ need to escape with some old-fashioned football trump their anxiety about shelling out hard-earned money for tickets, parking and hotdogs at the game?

Will TV broadcasters cash in on higher ratings, as consumers skip more expensive entertainment to spend time at home watching baseball or basketball on television? Or has devastation across the financial services and auto industries — two big advertisers in sports — doomed TV broadcasters regardless of audience size?

AP tries to help grumpy, cash-strapped members

More cracks are appearing in the newspaper industry. Things have become so tough that the Associated Press has agreed to slash $9 million from its membership fees. With newspaper’s reeling from depressed advertising revenue, they are looking to save money wherever they can, and have been clamoring for a break from the AP.

PaidContent’s Staci Kramer talked to AP chief revenue officer Tom Brettigen about the cuts. Here’s what he said about how AP will make up for the drop in income.

“We have a lot to make up. We’ve been working on the revenue side; this undoubtedly is going to require some work on the cost side. For a company where the costs are primarily its people, it’s going to mean having to look at some positions.” AP already has a hiring freeze; now it’s looking at staff cuts. “It’s too early to be specific. It is a peculiar situation where we reduce the costs to the newspapers, which means we may be more than likely to make cost reductions. It will affect the news report as little as we can possibly make it.”

Sumner Redstone: World could end tomorrow!

Step off — CBS and Viacom are not for sale!

That comes courtesy of Sumner Redstone, who should know since he holds a controlling stake in both of the media companies. Here’s what he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview:

Asked whether he would consider selling one of the companies, Mr. Redstone said: “Not a chance. I will not sell Viacom and I will not sell CBS. They’re two great companies.” He added: “We have no intention to sell any more stock and I’m decisive about that.”

Redstone’s interview with the Journal should help clear the air on much recent speculation about the future of Viacom and CBS — both suffering badly in the stock market. In the last month, shares of Viacom have dropped about 30 percent, while CBS shares have fallen a staggering 45 percent.

from DealZone:

Just the ticket

Will Ticketmaster's new duet fend off a hot rival and help it rise above an economic climate that makes pricey concert tickets seem like an extravagance?

The ticketing giant has announced a complex deal to acquire top artist-management agency Front Line, home to artists including Christina Aguilera, the Eagles and Neil Diamond. Front Line honcho Irving Azoff will run the combined company -- raising questions about how Ms. Aguilera's manager will negotiate her ticketing fees with himself.

Ticketmaster already owns a minority stake in Front Line, and will pay $123 million to Warner Music Group for an additional 30 percent stake, as the Wall Street Journal was the first to report.

Nickelback deal embarrassing for Warner or expensive for Live Nation?

nickelback.jpgLive Nation said on Tuesday it has signed a global ’360-degree’ deal with Canadian rock band Nickelback covering the band’s touring, recording and merchandising.

The deal was said to be in the $50 million to $70 million range over the course of the three-album/three-tour deal, according to a source.

The deal could cause some blushes at Warner Music Group. Back in December 2006 Warner paid around $73.5 million for a 73.5 percent stake in Nickelback’s label Road Runner Records — no doubt with hopes to sell many more Nickelback albums for years to come.

They’re feuding at Live Nation

madonna.jpgThings have gotten tense over at Live Nation. An internal feud at the concert promoter could end with Chairman Michael Cohl resigning.

The Wall Street Journal says Cohl is currently negotiating his resignation, having fought with Chief Executive Michael Rapino for weeks over so-called “360 deals.” In such deals, Live Nation gives superstars hefty upfront payments in exchange for financial rights in nearly all their business. Think Madonna and U2 and Jay-Z.

It seems, according to the reports, fairly simple: Cohl wants to sign more of these deals and Rapino wants the pace of these signings to slow; the board tells them to work out their differences; Cohl heads out the door.

Playing nice at Martha Stewart

susan-lyne.jpgSusan Lyne is leaving Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, but the shakeup at the lifestyle brand probably isn’t over yet. 

Lyne steered the company through some rough waters as chief executive (let’s not forget she ran things as Martha Stewart trudged off to prison) and now she’ll be replaced by Wenda Harris Millard and Robin Marino. That’s right, Millard and Marino. Co-CEO’s. Two at the top. Power sharing.

How often does that work? ”They are fairly rare and they typically don’t work out to be that great,” said Noble Financial research director Michael Kupinski.

I spent $100 mln and all I got was this lousy Bono t-shirt

U2The Live Nation touring and merchandising agreement with supergroup U2 could be worth $100 million estimates one Wall Street analyst.

Live Nation, a tour promoter that is evolving rapidly into an all-round music company, has prepped a 12-year deal with supergroup U2 which includes its merchandising, digital, image licensing in addition to its touring but hasn’t revealed how much money will change hands (not to us anyway).

However David Joyce, media analyst at Miller Tabak, ventures that the deal will be in the $100 million range. Joyce, who likes Live Nation’s prospects, has based his guesstimate on the $120 million figure that Live Nation is widely believed to have agreed with Madonna in cash and stock last year.