Friday, September 4, 2009

Van Nailed 'Em!

Some stories deserve to be read elsewhere than just on music-specific websites...

Here's the deal: Irving Azoff has a day job: he manages rock band Van Halen. Now, I don't want to debate over the quality of the rock that Van Halen delivers - at least not today - but we can all agree that they've reached some level of success.

As their manager, Azoff has time and time again criticized scalpers and bootleggers as being the worst possible scum on earth.

When came the time to expand his horizons, however, he decided to found Front Line Management, a concert ticket 'brokering' company that profits from selling tickets at a higher price than face value.

Oh, but that wasn't enough. Front Line Management was co-owned by ticket giant Ticketmaster, a major ticket distributor if there is one... you can see it coming can't you?

Like every stupid idea, this one needed an obvious name, hence 'Project Showtime', which consisted of pulling (i.e. never putting on the actual market) the best tickets in the house and giving them to private sellers, who would sell them on Ticketmaster's affiliate, Front Line Management. At a 70% cut of all profits above face value (sometimes twenty times the actual cost), of course, for the band, its manager, and Ticketmaster.

And who came up with this scheme? Azoff, of course. But he also called it off, because none of the thieves who were part of it trusted each other enough to keep it going.

And what is Azoff's new side-job nowadays? Ticketmaster’s chief executive, of course.

And only Gibson Guitars' website has run this story so far, apart from the Wall Street Journal who did the investigating. Nice.

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