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"Our [Ticketmaster] contract is up, and we haven't renewed."

'Canes owner Eric Leitstein is in the process of deciding whether to continue his involvement with the monolithic ticket company.

In the running to replace Ticketmaster is Frontgate Tickets, an Austin-based company that was recently selected by Casbah owner Tim Mays to handle his ticket sales. When fans order tickets through the new website, www.casbahtickets.com, Frontgate prints the tickets and sends them directly to the buyer. Fans can opt to be put on a night-of-show will-call list.

"We charge a $2.75 fee for a $15 ticket," said Frontgate marketing exec Jeff Kreinik. "Ticketmaster charges double that.... In 2004 there were 3 million fewer concert tickets sold than in 2003, but there was a 13 percent increase in ticket prices."

Mays admits that his switch to Frontgate won't have that much impact when he presents shows outside of the Casbah at venues that have exclusive agreements with Ticketmaster.

Soma, which has never used Ticketmaster, uses an in-house system called Lunaticks, which relies on ticket buyers printing out their own tickets at home. Soma owner Len Paul said Lunaticks prints 10,000 tickets a month.

"Ticketmaster is a giant, publicly traded company," said Kreinik. "We are a relatively small company with 20 employees. Ticketmaster is tied to its infrastructure and hardware, which drives up their prices."

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