Monday, May 9, 2011

Worlds Collide: Groupon and Live Nation Edition

Posted By on 05.09.11 at 11:46 AM

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Just in the past couple of years, local retail phenomenon Groupon has grown so fast it's been hard to keep track. It seems like one minute it was a scrappy little startup and the next it was bullying the state into multimillion-dollar tax breaks like the big kids. Now, according to a press release that went out this morning, it's throwing in with concert-industry behemoth Live Nation to form GrouponLive. The release doesn't say much about what GrouponLive will do: there's some vague PR-speak about how it will "serve as a local resource for Live Nation events and clients of its global ticketing business, Ticketmaster," as well as talk of "a new online ticketing deals channel." I'm waiting for somebody from the company to get back to me, but for the time being it's not unreasonable to assume that this language means Groupon is bringing its widely replicated deal-making model to the live-entertainment industry.

I'm not going to judge the service before it goes live, but I'm definitely curious to see how it turns out—I'm also a touch wary, given the parties involved. Retailers have been complaining that Groupon produces deal chasers, not a stable customer base, but that might not be as much of a problem for the live-music industry, where the customer base has always been a little unsteady. Also worth considering is the worrying amount of control that Live Nation—which now owns Ticketmaster—has over the live-music industry. I just don't trust them and I never will. GrouponLive's deals might turn out to be great for the musicians involved, but even if they aren't, touring acts might have to take them anyway in order to use Live Nation's extensive national network of venues.

But like I said, maybe it will all work fine. People like to bag on Groupon devotees for being a bunch of zombies who'll buy anything you put in front of them, but pointing them at the live-music industry sounds like a good thing for musicians, as long as the terms are right.

I'll follow up as soon as I can learn more.

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