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Live Nation Aims For Recession-Proof Music

This story was written by CBSNews.com's Melissa Castellanos

There are some luxuries in life that Americans just aren't willing to forfeit during the economic downturn - and attending a live concert is one of them.

So, what does that say about Americans?

We may sacrifice a latte in the morning or a pair of new shoes, but we will not sacrifice our love for live music and the chance to escape reality and rock out for a few hours.

"More and more we are seeing that people are skipping the long family vacations, perhaps a trip to a Hawaii, a big auto purchase, but people need an escape from everyday life and music is that soundtrack of our lives," said Live Nation's CEO of Global Music, Jason Garner.

Garner, who began his career as a concert promoter booking bands at a local San Jose, Calif. flea market, can relate to getting a rush out of a live show. A self-proclaimed "big metal head" and "a huge Metallica fan," his first concert was Metallica's "Day On The Green" tour at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif.

"When you attend a live show, hear a song on your iPod or on the radio, it transports you to another place and time," Garner says - whether it is the time you broke up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, met your husband or wife, or graduated from college.

"Luckily that's resonating with fans and our business is strong right now," he said. "We are selling concert tickets at a very brisk pace, but there are still empty seats and it is still our job to make sure that we do everything we can to make it possible for fans to get to concerts."

Concert-goers may be relentless whether or not their wallets are thin, but there comes a time when they need to be rewarded for their loyalty.

Today, Live Nation kicked off a summer promotion called "No Service Fee Wednesdays," where they will drop ticket service fees for U.S. amphitheater lawn seats.

The 24-hour promotion offers five million lawn seat tickets to concerts by such top performers as Aerosmith, Blink-182, Coldplay, No Doubt, Nickelback, Depeche Mode, Toby Keith, and Brad Paisley, among others.

"We just want to make it a little bit easier for music fans to get out, escape from some of these tough times and enjoy a great concert under the stars," Garner added.

The rest of the summer, Live Nation will come back every Wednesday with a different promotion, centered around the service fees, says Garner.

"It felt like a nice time in the middle of the week - coming out of the weekend, heading into the weekend - that day right in the middle, to get the momentum going into the weekend," Garner explained.

Recuperating from a live concert featuring rappers Jay-Z and Eminem the night before, Garner gushes about the concert line-up this summer.

"There are so many great artists on the road this year," he said. "U2 is having a dynamite tour, Elton John, Billy Joel, Coldplay, Nickelback and Aerosmith, a reunion of No Doubt, which I saw in San Francisco - which was amazing."

Live Nation will soon be involved in one of biggest mergers in entertainment history with Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc.

The deal has been delayed by an antitrust review because of the companies' dominant role in the entertainment business.

"We are going through that process working right now with the Department of Justice to answer all of their questions," Garner said. "When the merger goes through you can expect to see us continuing to find ways to make it easier to go to concerts - similar to what we are doing on Wednesdays, waiving the service fees. It's our job to connect artists and fans."

Despite becoming an even bigger entity and soaring to the top of the music chain, Garner says the transaction won't affect the underdogs - otherwise known as the smaller, club venues.

"We are the largest promoters of clubs shows in the world, on the House of Blues chain, the Fillmore chain, the Academy Group in the U.K.," he said. "Small clubs is where it all begins. It's where every band goes out and learns their trade. For us it's where our staff learns and grows. So, we're a big believer in the club music scene."

Artist Line-up:

Tickets for "No Service Fee Wednesdays" can be purchased today at Live Nation.com. (This promotion is not valid in combination with other special pricing offers and is subject to availability.)

Tickets without service fees are available at all Live Nation-ticketed amphitheaters for concerts including:

  • 311
  • Aerosmith
  • blink-182
  • Brad Paisley
  • Coldplay
  • Crosby Stills & Nash
  • Crue Fest 2
  • Dave Matthews Band
  • Def Leppard with Poison and Cheap Trick
  • Depeche Mode
  • George Strait
  • Incubus
  • Jason Mraz
  • Kid Rock & Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • New Kids on the Block
  • Nickelback
  • Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction
  • No Doubt
  • O.A.R.
  • Phish
  • Rascall Flats with Darius Rucker
  • REO Speedwagon & Styx
  • Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Tour featuring Marilyn Manson & Slayer
  • Rod Stewart
  • The Allman Brothers Band
  • The Dead
  • The Fray
  • The Killers
  • Toby Keith
  • Warped Tour