How Live Nation and Ticketmaster have a monopoly on the live entertainment industry

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a listening to this week titled, “That is the Ticket: Selling Competitors and Defending Shoppers in Stay Leisure,” which targeted on the state of Stay Nation Leisure and the dearth of competitors within the main and secondary ticketing markets.

“I simply need to dispel this notion that this isn’t a monopoly after which we will go from there about options,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., mentioned on the listening to, which was held Tuesday.

Live Nation Entertainment consists of Stay Nation, an occasions promoter and venue operator, and Ticketmaster, a ticket gross sales large. The 2 corporations merged in 2010 and now management an estimated 70% of the ticketing and live event venues market.

It is no secret that Taylor Swift followers have been outraged in November 2022 when hundreds of thousands flocked to Ticketmaster.com to seize tickets to see the heartbreak queen for the primary time since 2018 and the web site crashed. The lengthy wait traces and frozen screens sparked an uproar with followers, blaming Ticketmaster for ruining their possibilities to see the pop star.

“Because the main participant, now we have an obligation to do higher,” mentioned Joe Berchtold, Stay Nation Leisure president and chief monetary officer, on the listening to Tuesday.

This isn’t the primary time shoppers have referred to as for the breakup of Ticketmaster and Stay Nation. It is also not the primary time the Division of Justice has been reportedly trying into alleged misconduct by the corporate.

When the Stay Nation and Ticketmaster merger was authorised in 2010, it was below the situation of a consent decree. Amongst different issues, the aim of that settlement was to forbid Stay Nation from retaliating towards a venue for utilizing a ticketer aside from Ticketmaster. After an investigation, in 2019 the DOJ made its most important enforcement motion of an antitrust decree in 20 years when it alleged Stay Nation Leisure violated that decree. The company settled with the federal government.

“The Division of Justice alleged six points in 2019 which led to our resolution with them to increase the consent decree. We didn’t really feel it made sense to be seen as defending the theories of retaliation or threats. It is not our enterprise follow. It goes towards our basic concentrate on alignment with the artists. The concept that we might ever put our pursuits forward of theirs. So we’re snug extending the consent decree,” mentioned Berchtold throughout Tuesday’s listening to. “It’s completely our coverage to not stress, threaten or retaliate towards venues through the use of content material as a part of the ticketing dialogue,” he added.

In November 2022, The New York Times reported the DOJ is as soon as once more investigating the corporate.

Whereas Stay Nation Leisure arguably has a monopoly on the business, a monopoly in itself just isn’t unlawful in the USA. A monopoly happens when an organization holds exclusive possession or control of an business.  

“If we made monopolies unlawful on the premise of pricing above value and producing monopoly earnings for a agency, the priority can be that that might probably stifle risk-taking and entrepreneurial exercise,” mentioned Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute.

Abuse of a monopoly place is one other matter. It is unlawful for a enterprise to determine or keep a monopoly by way of improper conduct and never enable for others to enter the market. 

Clyde Lawrence, a singer-songwriter within the New York Metropolis-based band Lawrence, testified throughout Tuesday’s listening to. The band frequently interacts with Stay Nation Leisure. It’s typically their promoter, venue operator and ticketer. 

“In a world the place the promoter and the venue will not be affiliated with one another, we will belief that the promoter will look to get the perfect deal from the venue; nevertheless, on this case the promoter and the venue are a part of the identical company entity so the road objects are basically Stay Nation negotiating to pay itself,” Lawrence mentioned.

The band instructed CNBC in the event that they need to play a sure measurement venue in a selected metropolis, they’re typically left no selection aside from to make use of Stay Nation due to the dearth of competitors in some areas. Then in the event that they want to use one other ticketer aside from Ticketmaster, they are saying that isn’t an possibility.

“Ticketmaster has created these unique contracts, when you signal that contract, a band just isn’t allowed to come back in and say, ‘we need to promote our tickets with X, Y, Z platform,’” mentioned Jordan Cohen, one of many band’s eight members.

They even have a song with the lyric, “Stay Nation is a monopoly.” “Attributable to Stay Nation’s management throughout the business, now we have virtually no leverage in negotiating,” Lawrence mentioned.

Whereas the corporate does have some competitors, consultants say no different agency presently stands an opportunity.

“There’s actually nobody that is been in a position to get the kind of scale that Stay Nation has. The closest comparable is Anschutz Leisure Group with their very own sort of inner ticketing platform. However they made a press release that speaks to the market energy of Ticketmaster, which is that they used Ticketmaster to ticket Taylor Swift,” mentioned Barton Crockett, managing director and senior fairness analyst at Rosenblatt Securities.

It is a enterprise that lots of people have checked out. They’ve spoken about eager to get into it, and nobody’s actually been in a position to seize sufficient market share to essentially be a significant participant,” he added.

Stay Nation declined CNBC’s request for an interview or remark however in a statement on its website said that it’s against company policy to threaten venues if they do not use Ticketmaster and that it doesn’t retaliate for a misplaced ticketing deal.

It’s unclear what’s subsequent for Stay Nation Leisure.

Watch this video to be taught extra about how the corporate obtained to the place it’s right now and what the long run would possibly maintain.

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