Live Nation is under investigation according to a new report, which has pointed out its alleged anticompetitive behavior. Since the company merged with Ticketmaster in 2010, they have controlled the majority of the ticket market and dominated the live music business.
Back then, Live Nation was already the world’s biggest concert promoter. Ticketmaster had for years been the leading ticket provider. Critics warned that the merger would be detrimental to other companies in the ticketing business — and it seems as though they were right. Years later, Ticketmaster has a lock on 80 of the top 100 arenas in the country, according to the New York Times.
Specific instances of the alleged violations are detailed in the article, including a case in which an Atlanta venue was skipped over. The reasoning — “Three letters. Can you guess what they are?” AEG.
The NYT article claims there’s already an investigation underway: Department of Justice officials are looking into serious accusations about Live Nation’s behavior in the marketplace. They have been reviewing complaints that Live Nation, which manages 500 artists, including U2 and Miley Cyrus, has used its control over concert tours to pressure venues into contracting with its subsidiary, Ticketmaster.
The NYT continues: The company’s chief competitor, AEG, has told the officials that venues it manages that serve Atlanta; Las Vegas; Minneapolis; Salt Lake City; Louisville; and Oakland were told they would lose valuable shows if Ticketmaster was not used as a vendor, a possible violation of antitrust law.
However, Ticketmaster president Jared Smith has an entirely different side of the story:
The New York Times article suggests that any benefits of being a vertically integrated company are, in and of themselves, anticompetitive. They insinuate that we “condition” content. That we “retaliate” when Ticketmaster is not selected as a venue’s ticketing partner. In short, they say we have stifled competition.
The reality is that none of these things are true. It is absolutely against Live Nation and Ticketmaster policy to threaten venues that they won’t get any Live Nation shows if they don’t use Ticketmaster. We also do not re-route content as retaliation for a lost ticketing deal. Live Nation is the most artist-focused company in the world, and misusing our relationship with artists to “settle scores” with venues would be both bad business and counter to our core beliefs.
There’s no doubt, Live Nation and Ticketmaster run today’s live music market. Ticket prices are high, service fees are up there, too. No other company has risen to the occasion, though AEG has tried. We’ll have to see how this plays out.