Clear Channel executives have always denied that they've employed such tactics, and company vice president Don Howe rules out the practices in the future. "Our job is to grow our radio stations," Howe says, "and we'll continue to work with any promoters who bring bands to town that make sense for our radio stations. We've never turned anyone down who's brought something of value to the table for us, and that will continue, regardless of our partnership with SFX." Howe sees the merger as demonstrating the "natural synergy that exists between radio stations and the concert business, which is something we started to explore with Jacor Concerts four or five years ago." But he skips the part about how Jacor Concerts had to be scaled back when a number of its shows became disastrous money-losers.
Predictably, BGP/CMP's Chuck Morris sees nothing but upside in the Clear Channel/SFX deal: "It came as a surprise, but we think it's going to be very exciting," he says. Mark Norman, Denver head of House of Blues, BGP/CMP's chief rival, is far quieter, referring all questions to House of Blues's corporate office -- an indication that his leash has been shortened since an embarrassing ticketing scandal involving the Backstreet Boys that broke late last year. But Doug Kauffman, head of nobody in particular presents, a defiantly independent concert firm, isn't afraid to speak up.
"I'm glad we're an independent and not subject to these tidal waves of change in the music and radio businesses," Kauffman says. "And I think this kind of consolidation will only increase the numbers of bands that will have to depend on touring to make their living, because less bands will be broken through the traditional format of radio. That just won't be available to a lot of bands anymore."