Since February 2009 Live Nation and Ticketmaster have been trying to get their bear paws on each other and today they finally got the OK. I know what you're thinking—now that the two monster entities have joined forces, ticket prices and surcharges will go from just exorbitant to totally obscene. Well actually, by suggesting a merger the two companies brought the heat: artists, anti-trust agencies and competitors protested, and the Dept of Justice investigated. Now they'll be allowed to go through with the deal, but with all the requirements being imposed, AP reported they may actually bring ticket prices down.

Right now, if you want to buy a $80 ticket to see John Mayer at Madison Square Garden on February 25, Ticketmaster charges an extra $11.80 (which is actually more than we would pay in total to see John Mayer). But with the new regulations in place, ticket buyers may get a break. According to Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, Ticketmaster is required to pass off its ticket-selling software to a competitor as well as its subsidiary company Paciolan, which currently sells tens of millions of tickets every year. Ticketmaster will in effect be giving itself two very large competitors.

The Ticketmaster/Live Nation mafia that results from the merger will also be prohibited from retaliating against venues that choose to sign on with the new guys. "It's going to benefit competition and benefit consumers," said Varney. "Generally when you see robust competition, you would expect to see prices coming down." Ticketmaster and Live Nation had no comment.