Washington DC has many amazing local venues but perhaps the most popular is 9:30 Club. The 9:30 Club attracts diverse shows and artists both big and small every year. It has become a favorite of both the performers and fans. The intimate setting and cool rock vibe of 9:30 Club are truly a rarity in this day and age. But now 9:30 Club has turned it’s clout towards a national story. Recently 9:30 Club made their feelings heard on the possible merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster. The venue is vehemently expressing their objection to the two joining forces. Citing that it would be monopolize the ticket industry and punish music fans. It is unique that the venue is doing this since they are one of few venues that use an outside broker to sell tickets since they use ticketfly.com. In an e-mail with the subject line “concert fans beware” sent last month to people on the 9:30 Club mailing list they made their case clear. But the e-mail also stated it was a call to action from far more then just the popular DC club. The e-mail read as follows:
“There’s a train wreck about to happen and consumer groups say YOU will be the victim if the two most powerful corporate interests in the live concert business get their way. But you can help stop the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation. The government needs to hear from music fans now. Tell the Department of Justice that you’re against these monopolies amassing illegal power over consumers, before it’s too late. firstname.lastname@example.org
As a concertgoer you have already felt the pain, and if Ticketmaster and Live Nation get their way, it’ll get worse. In the last 12 years, since Live Nation and its predecessor started its widespread takeover of the concert industry, concert ticket prices have shot up 82% while the consumer price index has gone up just 17%*. We are concerned that if the two concert industry behemoths, Live Nation and Ticketmaster, are permitted to merge, the variety and quality of artists coming to local venues will be affected, and your costs could rise further and faster.
Five of the nation’s most prominent public interest groups called on the Department of Justice to block the proposed merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation:
“Consumers deserve a fair deal in the entertainment marketplace, not the fewer choices and higher prices that would result from this merger,” said Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection at Consumer Federation of America
“This merger is an insult to both musicians and consumers,” said James Love, Director of Knowledge Ecology International
“We cannot envision a remedy that would ease this chilling impediment to competition… In the absence of other effective, expeditious remedies, the proposed transaction should be prohibited.” American Antitrust Institute White Paper
As described by Senator Herb Kohl (WI) in the House Antitrust hearing, “This merger will not only expand Ticketmaster’s control of the ticketing market by eliminating a competitor, but it is also creating an entity that will control the entire chain of the concert business – from artist management to concert promotion and production to ticketing and ticket resale.”
“This merger would be a disaster for consumers. Nothing short of blocking this takeover of the ticket market by two industry behemoths will be acceptable,” said National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg
“As president, I will direct my administration to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement. I will step up review of merger activity and take effective action to stop or restructure those mergers that are likely to harm consumer welfare…,” said Senator Barack Obama when he was campaigning for the presidency.
If you agree with the consumer groups and lawmakers, make a difference and LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD NOW.
Send a message to the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice telling them you support President Obama’s campaign promise to protect the American public from abusive monopolies.
To learn more, check out:
Public Interest Groups Call on Justice Department to Block Ticketmaster/LiveNation/Comcast Merger
American Antitrust Institute’s White Paper TICKETMASTER – LIVE NATION
Philadelphia Weekly’s cover story “Monopoly Rules”
The 9:30 Club, I.M.P., Merriweather Post Pavilion, Jam Productions, Metropolitan Talent, Another Planet Entertainment, Frank Productions, Stone City Attractions, Rams Head Live, The Black Cat … and independent concert promoters and venue operators nationwide.”
9:30 Club also has been tweeting about the same issue on their twitter page twitter.com/930ClubDC Earlier this week they offered up a link to a petition that was started to get people to make their voice heard and stop the merger (view it here: http://www.change.org/actions/view/tell_the_department_of_justice_to_block_the_ticketmaster-live_nation_merger) Other music sites both local and national showed support by re-tweeing what 9:30 Club wrote. This is likely because a merger between the two could effect more then concert goers but venues and performers as well. The petition states “we are concerned that the merger will lead to higher ticket prices, less consumer choice for live events, and unprecedented control by one company over live events.” The main focus of the petition and campaign is Ticketmaster moreso then Live Nation. Citing the reason the ticket giant wants the merger is: “ Ticketmaster faced its first significant competitive threat when Live Nation announced earlier this year that it was entering the primary ticketing market. Most monopolists would like to quash any new threats to their dominance. But if they can’t quash them, they might choose to buy them out – which is precisely why this merger is illegal.”
This entire issue has brought up a valid question why would this be allowed when other monopolies are not? Does this merger violate anti-trust laws? It is a thorny issue with alot of red flags going up because for example when Sirius and XM tried to merge it was held up by a lot of red tape. The argument that kept that merger from being instantly approved was regarding violation of anti-trust laws and it was being called a potential monopoly. Yet Ticketmaster and Live Nation do not seem to be facing the same scrutiny and would offer far more issues then the satellite radio merger. Other sites like the aforementioned http://www.ticketdisaster.org/ are also popping up and voicing anger regarding the merger. With the two ticket companies seperated there is at least choice but if merged there will be no options to buy tickets elsewhere for a very large majority of shows. This could force fans who are unable to afford the extra fees of tickets to not go to shows. If the two merge this will give three options for people wanting to attend shows: 1) buy from the only ticket seller (aka Ticketmaster/Live Nation); 2) pay way above face through a broker or 3) not go to a show period. Unless more venues take the 9:30 Club lead and sell tickets either through another seller like ticketfly.com or sell tickets through their own venue (like Wolftrap in VA does) this merger will have a very visible effect on music fans everywhere. But at least this time music fans are being given a way to make their opinions heard and for once be able to stand up to Ticketmaster unlike in the past. Feel free to weigh in and give an opinion on the merger below in the comments section.