Britain’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has asked a competition watchdog to investigate Live Nation’s growing influence in the festivals space.
The request comes as the AIF – which counts Bestival, Eden Sessions and Meltdown Festival among its members -published its own research on the marketplace which reveals LN is “fast approaching” a 25% market share of all U.K. festivals with a capacity upwards of 5,000.
Live Nation, the most powerful concert promoter on the planet, currently operates eight of the U.K.’s nine largest outdoor events and is almost three times bigger than its nearest rival (Global), which controls an 8% share of the U.K. festival market, according to AIF’s research.
The live entertainment powerhouse currently owns or majority-owns 28 U.K. festivals, including Download, V Festival, Reading/Leeds, Parklife, Creamfields, Lovebox and Wilderness and is in the process of acquiring the iconic Isle of Wight Festival. That deal is currently being scrutinised by the Competition & Markets Authority and the AIF wants that investigation expanded into LN’s powerful position in the overall marketplace.
On a global basis, Live Nation reported revenue of US$1.4 billion for the first quarter, up 17% year-on-year and ahead of its projections. For the period, the live entertainment juggernaut boasted “strong operating performance across all concerts, advertising, and ticketing segments” as operating income came in at US$21 million (up 36%) with adjusted operating income tallied at $92 million (up 25%).
Coupled with LN’s “deep-rooted influence” across the live sector, from venue and festival ownership, through to ticketing (via Ticketmaster) and secondary ticketing sites and security and management businesses, AIF General Manager Paul Reed warns the playing field in the U.K. is anything but level. Indeed, the live giant is “fast-headed towards widespread dominance,” the association claims.
Notes Reed, “For the sake of its future health and diversity it is vital that the UK’s live music sector remains open and competitive. We continually need new artists to break through, and entrepreneurs to launch fresh and exciting events.
AIF argues the concentration of power across live sector’s food chain will further squeeze its members and ultimately stifle creativity. Most artists, the trade body claims, will have little choice but to work with the entertainment giant at some point in their career.
For independent festival operators, a Live Nation monopoly “would quite simply be a stranglehold with profound and serious consequences,” he says.
Reed warns artists could be limited by “restrictive exclusivity deals” which, he explains, are: “anti-competitive, restraining when and where even the smallest artist can perform and significantly diminishing the pool of talent that non-Live Nation promoters can draw upon. On this basis, we have urged the CMA to extend their investigations beyond acquisition of The Isle of Wight Festival and into Live Nation’s position in the market overall.”
LN has yet to respond on AIF’s claims or its report, which can be read here.