The Wall Street Journal published a pretty damning article last week about Ticketmaster and its CEO Irving Azoff, revealing an allegedly attempted plan to pass premium tickets directly to ticket brokers (scalpers) in exchange for a percentage of the profits.
The deal, allegedly codenamed “Project Showtime”, only fell apart because of distrust between the participants. That was not before the secondary ticket outlets were given hundreds of premium tickets in a back room deal for Van Halen’s (a management client of Azoff) reunion tour that reportedly netted the band an additional $1 million.
Project Showtime was allegedly shut down in a meeting led by Azoff in the summer of 2007. “I always knew we’d end up in a room together,” he reportedly told the group. “I just thought it would be a courtroom.” Present were senior executives from Ticketmaster, promoters AEG Live and MSG Entertainment, as well as the owners of ticket brokers Boston-based Ace Ticket, LA’s Barry’s Tickets Service, Floridas’ Total Tickets, Chicago’s Gold Coast, New York City’s Elite Ticket and Alliance Tickets, which operates in Denver, Las Vegas and Seattle.
Both moves run contradictory to Azoff’s more recent comments as the now-head of Ticketmaster campaigns for government approval of a merger with promoter Live Nation. It should also be noted that Azoff was not yet the CEO of Ticketmaster during all this “Project Showtime” business, but his Front Line Management firm was already partially owned by the ticket giant.