A British group that represents more than 60 festival owners and operators wants the government to look into Live Nation’s market dominance in the United Kingdom.
Billboard is reporting that the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) found Live Nation controls about 23 percent of the U.K.’s festival market for live events that draw at least 5,000 people. At the same time, Live Nation competitor Global controls 8 percent and AEG carries less than 2 percent. The remainder is made up of independently-owned festivals like Bestival or Glastonbury, according to the AIF research cited in the Billboard report.
Download, Parklife, Creamfields, Latitude, Wireless, Lovebox and the dual site V Festival and Reading/Leeds events are among the U.K. festivals owned, co-owned or operated by Live Nation.
The issue appears to stem from Live Nation announcing this year that it had become the majority stakeholder in the Isle of Wight festival, which is scheduled for June 21-24 with headlining performances by David Guetta, Arcade Fire and Rod Stewart. Live Nation partnered with festival founder John Giddings and his Solo Music Agency to secure the deal.
In May, Amplify reported that the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) was investigating Live Nation’s majority acquisition of the festival – and whether it will lead to a “substantial lessening of competition.” The government has asked Live Nation and the festival to operate separately until it agrees to the merger. LN-Gaiety is Live Nation’s UK joint venture with Denis Desmond’s Gaiety Investments, which also has Reading, Leeds, Wireless and T in in the Park in its portfolio of music festivals.
But AIF wants the government to go further, asking the CMA to widen its investigation beyond the Isle of Wight fest.
“It’s vital that the festival and live music scene remains open and competitive as a market,” AIF general manager Paul Reed told Billboard. “There is genuine and fundamental concern amongst our membership and, dare I say it, the wider music industry about Live Nation’s position.”
“As they increase their network and tentacles across all areas of the business they make an environment in which it is far easier for them to acquire independent festivals or push them out of the market entirely. That’s not a healthy or diverse market and it should ring alarm bells within the CMA that we have a single corporation heading towards a widespread dominance within the market that increasingly has a stranglehold on talent.”
According to Billboard, Reed says that Live Nation’s growing hold over the U.K. festival business and wider live music scene “has serious consequences for everybody in the business.” That business, he says, includes ticketing, artist management, sponsorship, event security and venue ownership.
Live Nation declined to comment when Billboard reached out. The Competition & Markets Authority, meanwhile, confirmed it was investigating Live Nation’s deal with the Isle of Wight Festival and that its inquiry was ongoing, but would not elaborate.