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TICKET MASTERS by Dean Budnick


The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped

by Dean Budnick and Josh Baron

Pub Date: June 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55022-949-3
Publisher: ECW Press

The lively, sprawling chronology of the concert-ticket sales business.   

Relix editors Budnick (Jambands: The Complete Guide to the Players, Music, and Scene, 2003, etc.) and Baron begin by recapturing the “eureka moment” of computer moguls Harvey Dubner and partner Jack Quinn in the 1960s. Both men managed to surmount a spectrum of technological kinks to roll out a revolutionary operating system that expanded automated ticketing to encompass not only theater venues, but the lucrative rock music and sporting-event business as well. Dubbed Ticket Reservation Systems, it endured fierce competition and necessary rebranding (Ticketron), while an ingenious startup venture (that would become Ticketmaster) began competing for venue contracts and consumer sales with technology capable of processing increasingly complex ticketing platforms. The authors engagingly trace the industry’s evolution through its rapid and profitable growth trends in the ’70s and ’80s, aided partly by shrewd businessmen like Ticketmaster honcho Fred Rosen, an entrepreneur who savored his company’s absorption of rival agent Ticketron in 1991. However, trouble began to mount. Customers revolted over Ticketmaster’s excessive, involuntary tiers of “service fees,” and allegations of unsavory and overzealous business practices sparked an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for antitrust practices. A host of volatile lawsuits followed, though nothing could prevent the highly scrutinized merger with LiveNation in 2010. Budnick and Baron offer information in accessible language fortified with verbatim dialogue from a pantheon of music-industry brass. Classic-rock bands, musicians, managers, concert promoters, radio broadcasters and entertainment attorneys contribute to a spirited forum on how the grinding gears of the evolving (often double-crossing) ticket market has affected their concert tours and business.

An exhaustive, somewhat circuitous literary treatment that favors history over histrionics.