Is This Healthy? Ticketmaster Now Selling Tickets at Wal-Mart

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Now there’s even more to love!

But is this good for music fans, artists, or even the broader concert industry?  According to partnership details disclosed Wednesday afternoon, Ticketmaster is now installing touchscreen ticket-selling kiosks in hundreds of Wal-Mart locations, with initial concentrations in Texas, New York, New England, and Los Angeles.

This has already been deployed in many locations, and the rollout appears well underway.  “By integrating ticketing into Wal-Mart stores, we are able to offer fans this very convenient way to learn about upcoming events, purchase and take home tickets without leaving their neighborhood,” said Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard.

But wait: isn’t Wal-Mart all about lowering prices?  Maybe this isn’t too big to fail after all, thanks to a possible mismatch in corporate cultures.  Wal-Mart is the low-cost leader, and a corporation notorious for squeezing suppliers to ensure rock-bottom price tags.  But Ticketmaster is notorious for driving prices the other way, with sneaky levers like hidden surcharges and sketchy aftermarket sales allocations to maximize profits.  That is arguably a significant contributor to an absolutely abysmal 2010 for Ticketmaster parent Live Nation, as consumers considered easier, more transparent entertainment options.

But another reason is easy to spot: the economy.  Consumers are increasingly strapped, and walking into Wal-Marts with bargains on their mind – not expensive front-row seats and jacked-up service fees.  And that is a dynamic that now appears to be getting worse, not better.