The Live Nation Monopoly: Controlling the Music Industry and Changing the Concert Scene
Revealing the Power Play in the Live Entertainment Industry

The live event sector is a multibillion-dollar market that keeps expanding every year. Live performances are a substantial source of income for this sector, particularly for performers who tour for the great bulk of their earnings. By 2022, touring would account for almost 95% of an artist's revenue, up from 82% in 2010.

The biggest entertainment organization in the world, Live Nation Entertainment, controls nearly every aspect of live events, particularly live music. This covers venue operations, artist management, ticketing (through Ticketmaster - the largest ticket sales service), and event promotion. With the ability to use one business line to maintain dominance and impede competitors in another, Live Nation's comprehensive market strength offers it a substantial competitive edge in the sector. According to a report by Live Nation Entertainment, operating profit in 2023 increased by 35% to $1.1 billion since the beginning of the year.

Monopoly with the permission of the state.

How did it happen that a real monopoly appeared in the American market? It's a pretty interesting story. Up to a certain point, Ticketmaster and Live Nation have successfully developed separately from each other. But in 2008, Ticketmaster acquired Front Line Management, a leading artist management and representation firm, gaining exclusive rights to sell concert tickets to Front Line talent. This led to fierce competition between Ticketmaster and Live Nation, the largest event organizer in the United States in the 2000s, which also planned to launch its own ticket sales system.

However, the competition did not last long. In 2009, the companies... announced a merger. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) approved vertical integration between companies under certain conditions. Despite the restrictions that prohibited Live Nation from using methods aimed at suppressing competition, this was a very strange decision on the part of the government because Ticketmaster already occupied an incredible 80% of the ticket sales market at that time. The merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation (renamed Live Nation Entertainment) essentially allowed them to capture the market.

This was confirmed in 2020 when a DOJ investigation revealed that Live Nation Entertainment had repeatedly violated the 2010 agreement. In particular, evidence was provided that Live Nation obliged venues where concerts were held to sell tickets exclusively through Ticketmaster and even threatened establishments that used competing ticket sales sites. But even after that, all the Ministry of Justice did was update the agreement and extend the validity of the decree on the merger until 2025.

Swifties vs Ticketmaster

When a company is so big and powerful, it doesn't have to try to be good to customers. Only in the end, it will play against her.

It has only been 2 years since the merger agreement was updated when Live Nation Entertainment, or rather Ticketmaster, reappeared in the not-so-flattering headlines in the press throughout the United States and beyond.

Taylor Swift fans, distraught from being quarantined due to the pandemic, rushed to buy tickets for her tour in November 2022. However, the Ticketmaster platform was unprepared for such an influx of fans. More than 14 million users searched for a ticket for the long-awaited tour (No wonder Taylor Swift became Time's Person of the Year in 2023). But something went wrong. The site couldn't stand the load, and thousands couldn't buy tickets. It is clear that the problem here is not that the site is broken. This would happen to any website. The problem is that Ticketmaster was the only ticket source. If fans could buy tickets elsewhere, perhaps an avalanche of anger would not have descended on Ticketmaster and Live Nation. In December 2022, a group of Taylor Swift fans filed a lawsuit accusing Ticketmaster and Live Nation of fraud, violating antitrust laws and collusion.

Live Nation's monopoly power became the subject of an antitrust probe launched by the DOJ. Again. Additionally, in order to ascertain whether the major companies in the market were engaging in unfair competition practices, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened a hearing with industry participants in January 2023, which included the president of Live Nation. Even though the hearing sparked a crucial discussion, it was by design unable to delve into specifics on a market takeover. Senators inquired for some of these data in their inquiries for the record, but Live Nation only provided oblique responses.

There are 2 obvious conclusions from this whole story.
First of all, the live performance market is a gold mine. Ticket prices for live events have increased by more than 400% over the past 20 years, outpacing inflation by 334%. At the same time, Live Nation controls about 70% of the ticket sales market for the most visited live performances worldwide. In a report for investors for the 3rd quarter of 2023, Live Nation Entertainment reports: “Today we delivered our strongest quarter ever and are on pace for a record 2023, driven in good part by the acceleration of structural growth in the live entertainment industry. While we have benefitted from tailwinds for many years, it has accelerated due to the globalization of our business along with a fundamental shift in consumer spending habits toward experiences. With the majority of opportunity still untapped from Milan to Bogotá to Tokyo and beyond, we expect the industry will continue growing in 2024 and for years to come.” –Michael Rapino, President and CEO, Live Nation Entertainment

Secondly, the market is on the verge of changes. No matter how convenient it would be for Live Nation to merge with Ticketmaster, the merger agreement will end in 2025, and who knows what will happen to the market next. The performance market can be a great way to invest. We have created Jam.Art, a platform that will help investors diversify their capital by investing in musicians' performances. Support musicians by purchasing certificates for performances of your favorite artists. Sell them as soon as they rise in value. And our cutting-edge AI will help you keep track of the price. The future of the concert performance market comes with Jam.Art
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