ConcertsMusic Industry

Breaking up Live Nation and Ticketmaster will do ZERO for the concert fan. Here’s why.

[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]

Selling a concert ticket should be easy. At its essence, a ticket is a contract between you and a promoter that allows you access to a specific venue at a stated date and time to see a performance. In other words, it’s a thing you buy to get you in the door. Yet selling and buying concert tickets is one of the most opaque consumer experiences in the known universe.

Misinformation, frustration, and ignorance about how the system works — and needs to work — have created a situation where fans and governments are fed up and want something done about it. Good luck with that.

The latest salvo is an antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against Live Nation, the owner of Ticketmaster, accusing the company of being mean, monopolistic and using illegal tactics to stifle competition. (Live Nation’s response to the lawsuit can be found on livenationentertainment.com.)

At the heart of the lawsuit are four main things:

  1. Live Nation is too big and too powerful. It got that way by using Ticketmaster and a series of exclusive ticketing contracts with venues.
  2. Live Nation has an unfair advantage over competitors thanks to its control of tours and the 250+ venues it owns.
  3. These conditions allowed Live Nation to maintain a de facto monopoly over the ticketing business, allowing it to raise prices and fees.
  4. Ticketmaster’s dominance limits innovation in the ticketing industry, harming would-be rivals and driving up prices.

Here’s the thing, though. If the DOJ is successful in breaking up Live Nation and Ticketmaster, there will be ZERO advantage for the concert fan. ZERO.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38573 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “Breaking up Live Nation and Ticketmaster will do ZERO for the concert fan. Here’s why.

  • The annoying thing I’ve noticed with the news media covering this story is interviews with fans. “Nosebleeds for Taylor Swift were $3000!” Sorry, Swiftie, that’s not TM’s or LN’s doing. As usual, proper context is missing.

    Reply
  • I agree with a lot of what you said but I think Live Nation owning a bunch of prime venues is a bigger factor. Like sure the artist has final say on the ticket price based on costs and the profit they want to make. But if the company promoting the tour and figuring out what tickets will cost in order to break even also owns the venues, they would have a huge say in how much those costs will be.

    Like if a band is doing a tour promoted by LN, and they want to stop in a certain city with two useable venues, one owned by LN and one not, which venue do you think Live Nation is going to want them to play? And even if the other venue is cheaper, how many bands have enough power where they can risk pissing off their promotor (for the whole tour) by going with the venue they don’t own?

    Reply

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