Live Nation and investment group Liberty Media are being accused of exploiting a monopoly during a pandemic by music advocacy groups.
By David Icke Turner
Photo by Chris Grafton
Live Nation seems to be doing what most do during such existential crises: make mistakes and piss people off.
The Artist Rights Alliance, Center for Digital Democracy, and Future of Music Coalition have come together to send a joint demand to the U.S. Congress’ House Judiciary Committee to investigate Live Nation’s alleged “exploitative 2021 venue policies.” This is in response to a leaked memo which shows Live Nation’s new demands from artists and venues for 2021 events. Though many of these events are already contracted, Live Nation carries enough overwhelming leverage in the industry to make its demands non-negotiable.
Liberty Media, one of Live Nation’s largest investors, was included in the letter accusing both companies of “monopolistic behavior and abuses.”
Side note: John Malone, owner of the Liberty Media empire, was among the largest contributors to Donald Trump’s inauguration. Malone has since changed his tune on Trump.
The letter to Congress wasted no time in accusing LN and LM of effectuating a monopoly on the music industry and unethically using this to hurt artists and venues.
“In an attempt to profit off the pandemic, LiveNation has implemented unfair “take it or leave it” contract terms for 2021 that radically cut performance fees and expose artists to absurdly high penalties in the event of any pandemic-related delays or cancellations” the letter alleged.
“Liberty/Live Nation should not be allowed to exploit its multi-market monopoly and impose overwhelmingly one-sided and exploitative terms on performers under cover of a worldwide pandemic emergency. Consumers in areas served by Live Nation’s huge array of venues and should not be held hostage to grotesquely overreaching corporate demands.”
The letter called on Congress to investigate the two companies. The Artist Rights Alliance has also deployed a petition demanding the Department of Justice intervene to cease Liberty Media’s anticipated merger with iHeartMedia. iHeartMedia, formerly Clear Channel, is the nation’s largest holding of radio stations along with their corresponding digital media. If the merger proceeds, Live Nation, Ticketmaster, and iHeartMedia would have an absolute chokehold on live music as programmers, promoters, ticketers, and radio programmers.
If you think things are exploitative, monopolized, and homogenized now, just wait till these 3 join forces.
The full letter below.
The Honorable David Cicilline, Chairman
The Honorable Jim Sensenbrenner, Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law
U.S. House of Representatives
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Cicilline and Ranking Member Sensenbrenner:
We write seeking urgent oversight of Liberty Media/Live Nation’s abusive 2021 performance terms, which would unfairly cut artist fees and shift the risk of pandemic cancellations to performers.
Live Nation is part of the Liberty Media conglomerate, which also includes the Ticketmaster monopoly, the SiriusXM satellite radio monopoly, and Pandora digital radio. Liberty is also currently seeking to acquire the massive iHeartMedia network, which ARA and leading consumer and competition watchdog groups have strongly opposed.
Liberty/Live Nation should not be allowed to exploit its multi-market monopoly and impose overwhelmingly one-sided and exploitative terms on performers under cover of a worldwide pandemic emergency. Consumers in areas served by Live Nation’s huge array of venues and should not be held hostage to grotesquely overreaching corporate demands.
Artists are organizing to resist this pressure, including by considering boycotts of Live Nation facilities. But in many areas there are no practical alternatives to Live Nation facilities. Performers there will find themselves on the horns of an impossible dilemma: either don’t appear in the region at all — disappointing fans, driving down streaming and radio play, and ceding the spotlight at enormous long term cost — or accept the crippling risk of Live Nation’s cancellation “penalties” — rolling the dice on public health conditions no one can truly control.
We urge the Committee to investigate these abuses of market power and the creative economy.
Artist Rights Alliance
Center for Digital Democracy
Future of Music Coalition