[A joint project of Future of Music Coalition and Fractured Atlas]
With the state of the recorded music industry in flux, tremendous attention has been focused on the live music business and its sustainability. For years, this sector has been dominated by a small group of powerful players in touring, ticketing, promotions and venue management. How has this impacted musicians and local music communities? What effect would further concentration have on the live music ecosystem? Are there any alternatives?
In January 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the merger between Ticketmaster, the largest ticketing platform in the country, and Live Nation, the largest concert promoter in the country. In the lead-up to the merger, many in the music community expressed concern about the potential effects of combining two huge companies with major stakes in touring, promotions, ticketing and live venue management. The ability of such a large company to squeeze out competition in ticket sales, booking, and vendor contracts was a very real possibility, absent enforceable rules to prevent market abuses.
In an effort to prevent adverse market repercussions, the Justice Department approved the merger with specific conditions. Formally approved in January 2010, DOJ’s consent decree outlines the terms that would allow the two firms to merge with certain restrictions designed to limit monopolistic abuses, and create the opportunity for additional marketplace entrants.
These conditions can only work if they are enforced, and those charged with doing so must understand the concerns of those in the music community for the consent decree to be effective. Future of Music Coalition and Fractured Atlas collaborated on Too Big To Fail to help musicians and fans learn more about the Live Nation and Ticketmaster Merger, and to highlight how artists, managers, concert promoters and other stakeholders can proceed if and when terms of the consent decree are violated.
Another reason for this document is to hold the merged company, Live Nation Entertainment accountable for its behavior. One year later, the live music space still looks much the same, with promised efficiencies giving way to employee layoffs and shuffling at the executive level. FMC and Fractured Atlas believe that re-energizing the live music space doesn’t so much depend on giant corporate mergers, but rather increased investment in local arts and performance spaces, access to technology and other media infrastructure and greater competition in the ticketing marketplace. We remain committed to those goals, and encourage you to find ways to get involved.
The live music space is highly complex and includes many issues outside the scope of this document. That being said, we hope it provides useful information about the merger and how conditions for live music might be improved.