Access All Areas September 2019 - Page 34

SEPTEMBER | COVER FEATURE “Is there really a fair playing field before John Smith from Bracknell goes online to make his annual festival ticket purchase?” with government, and can command enviable budgets that few can compete with, is there really a fair playing field before John Smith from Bracknell goes online to make his annual festival ticket purchase? In 2017, AIF conducted and published research showing that almost 25% of UK festivals over 5,000 capacity are owned (or majority owned) by one company- US headquartered Live Nation, the festival assets of which include Download, Reading & Leeds, Parklife, Creamfields, Lovebox, Wilderness and many more. In 2018 the association updated this, publishing a Pictured: Bradley Thompson 34 festival ownership ‘map’ revealing that Live Nation now owns or controls 25.6% of UK festivals licensed at over 5,000 capacity. But is this necessarily a problem? The AIF’s CEO Paul Reed tells Access: “Since our research, Live Nation’s market share has increased yet further. A single company increasingly has control of all elements of the live music supply chain through vertical integration of concert promotion, festivals, ticketing, box office control and artist management companies. “For independent festival operators and indeed the entire live music market, a Live Nation monopoly would quite simply be a stranglehold with profound and serious consequences.” Reed adds that the issue is not the amount of market share itself but the alleged anti-competitive behaviour it is resulting in. “The complaint we hear privately from a growing number of AIF members is about the collateral damage caused by the imposition of hugely restrictive exclusivity deals on talent. By their nature, these deals 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.” “It’s worth noting that in the wider context to our festival data, a MINTEL report published in 2017 estimated that Pictured: Paul Reed Live Nation owned 47% of the overall festivals and music concert market. SJM concerts is its closest competitor with approximately 25% market share. However, it is widely established that these two companies are closely aligned on some levels, a situation that further increases the concentration of power in the live music industry into the hands of essentially a few individuals controlling most of the supply chain.” SJM and Live Nation are co- owners of The Academy Music Group (operators of Brixton Academy, Shepherds Bush Empire and academy venues in Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds and Glasgow) and DF Concerts in Scotland and regularly co- promote many large arena and stadium tours for artists. Live Nation and SJM concerts also co-bought Bestival, Camp Bestival and Common People festivals in 2018. In the last two years alone, Live Nation has acquired several other live music brands in the UK that trade from their premises and are fully integrated into the same corporate structure. These include promoters Cuffe and Taylor (Maria Carey, Rod Stewart, Greenwich Meantime, Lytham Festival, Scarborough Open Air Theatre), Metropolis Music (Robbie Williams, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, George Ezra, Hozier, Somerset House concert Pictured: Nick Morgan