Though SXSW organizers are well aware that the proposed Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger is the biggest music story of the year--if not the biggest to break during the history of the conference--there is nothing on the four-day schedule of panels and seminars at the Austin Convention Center addressing its implications. But that's not for lack of trying.
Panel organizers worked hard to arrange a public interview with Ticketmaster chief Irving Azoff, but Azoff declined. The company also passed on sending any other representatives to speak publicly at SXSW, as did Live Nation.
In their arguments on Capitol Hill, Azoff and Live Nation boss Michael Rapino both repeated that the merger would help up-and-coming artists--indeed, that it was essential for securing their future in these turbulent economic times. SXSW is the largest annual gathering of developing artists in America.
The mega-corporations' lack of a public presence speaks volumes.