A recent development in the Live Nation antitrust saga hits close to home for those living here in the District of Columbia (that's Washington, folks). I.M.P. Inc., an independent DC/Maryland concert promotion and event production company, recently filed an antitrust suit against Live Nation. Owned by Seth Hurwitz and Rich Heinecke, I.M.P. Inc., operates the famous 9:30 Club in Washington, DC and Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.
I.M.P. claims that Live Nation has unlawfully acquired a monopoly over the national market for live music. They assert that over the years, Live Nation has acquired practically exclusive control of national concert promotions and venue services, and is now threatening to extend their control to ticketing, concert merchandising and artist management. These latter allegations seem to reference the proposed Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger currently being reviewed by the Department of Justice for possible antitrust concerns. (FMC recently asked those on both sides of the merger to give us their opinions; you can read the results here.)
According to I.M.P., Live Nation threatens to "knock Merriweather out of business or force the owners of Merriweather to engage Live Nation to manage this venue." I.M.P. is suing for treble damages -- a legal trick that would allow the court to award three times as much in damages in order to punish the Live Nation for willfully violating the law.
This suit is not Live Nation's first brush with antitrust allegations. In 2001, Denver independent concert promoters Nobody In Particular Presents (NIPP) filed suit against radio conglomerate Clear Channel (which at that time owned Live Nation), claiming Clear Channel illegally reduced the airplay of artists that NIPP booked for their concerts. NIPP and Clear Channel settled in 2004. Now the company is back in the legal spotlight due to the proposed merger with Ticketmaster.
What do you think about the proposed Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger? Feel free to let us know in the comments.