In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, the Artist Rights Alliance, Center for Digital Democracy, and Future of Music Coalition have asked for an investigation of Live Nation for “monopolistic behavior and abuses,” stemming from the company’s consideration of changes to its contract terms in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In an attempt to profit off the pandemic, Live Nation has implemented unfair ‘take it or leave it’ contract terms for 2021,” a post from Artist Rights Alliance on Medium announcing the letter says. “[These terms] radically cut performance fees and expose artists to absurdly high penalties in the event of any pandemic-related delays or cancellations.”
The letter is addressed specifically to Rep David Cicilline (D-RI) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, respectively.
Live Nation is no stranger to accusations of monopolistic behavior, particularly since its merger with Ticketmaster. In January, the Department of Justice announced an extension of a 2010 consent decree the company entered into upon that merger, after an investigation that found multiple violations of that decree. It was recently accused of anti-competitive practices in a lawsuit filed by consumers in California as well.
The full letter is copied below:
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