The Live Nation / Ticketmaster problem
Issues concerning Live Nation and Ticketmaster have the potential to shake up the live music industry.
What do Matchbox Twenty and the United States Department of Justice have in common?
They’re both pretty skeptical of how the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster has played out since it was approved by federal officials back in 2010. The merger was approved in hopes of boosting competition with other ticketing and booking services, and the Department of Justice said they would outline and enforce some pretty strict, antitrust ground rules in order to make this happen.
Let these two giant companies merge and vertically integrate, they said… It will be fine, they said. The New York Times has recently reported that there have been swirling suspicions of potential antitrust violations, but is anyone really surprised? With Live Nation managing and promoting some of the biggest names in music, and Ticketmaster ticketing 80 of the top 100 concert venues in the country, no one should be surprised that there isn’t much room left for, well, anyone else.
There have now been a few separate instances of suspicious behavior by Live Nation, especially concerning one of their main sources of competition, AEG. AEG turned over emails to The New York Times that are blaring red sirens for the kind of antitrust-violation activity by Live Nation that the DOJ was certain they could avoid. The chances of fostering any competition, let alone healthy competition, are slim when you have massive companies, like Live Nation, who can steer their acts away from venues that choose not to ticket using their service; like Ticketmaster.
The Live Nation and Ticketmaster merger has not only proved to be less than beneficial for many competing businesses in the industry, but for concert goers as well. Ticket prices (as we can all attest to) are through the roof, and this lack of free and open competition in the ticketing industry definitely doesn’t help. Demand (and prices) are unfairly driven up by the lopsided amount of outlets we can purchase tickets from. Sure, secondary outlets, like StubHub, can be a handy solution for last minute purchases, but they are also subject to even crazier fees than many of the initial vendors.
While this is an issue that is definitely still unfolding, it will be interesting to see how (and if) others in the live music business respond, and whether or not there can be any sort of substantial argument mounted against Live Nation. If it turns out that maybe letting two live music giants meld their music giant powers together wasn’t such a great idea after all, it will be interesting to see what this means for concert promoting services, both large and small. After all, leveling the playing field (or in this case— the stage) in favor of healthy, free competition is usually a step in the right direction for industry and consumers.