Live Nation doubled lobbying spending to $2.4M in 2023 amid antitrust threat

Live Nation Entertainment will reduce its federal lobbying spending from $1.1 million in 2022 to $2.4 million in 2023 as it navigates legislative and regulatory efforts to fragment its power in the live entertainment and ticketing industry. It more than doubled to $1 million.

The lobbying onslaught comes on the heels of Ticketmaster’s infamous Taylor Swift “Ellas Tour” advance sale that crashed in November 2022, triggering Congressional scrutiny of the ticketing company’s parent company. .

Critics say Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s dominance in the live entertainment and ticket sales industry has led to a poor consumer experience, including soaring ticket prices, exorbitant fees and failed advance sales. claims.

“Live events bring people together and create lifelong memories, but unfair business practices by the biggest players in this market are putting these experiences out of reach for many Americans.” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota). The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights told The Hill.

Live Nation claimed He said there is intense competition in the concert promotion space, particularly in the secondary ticketing market, and there is a “significant gap” in quality between Ticketmaster’s ticketing services and its closest competitors on a national and global scale. He pointed out that there is.

“Live Nation has developed a business model that allows us to serve everyone in the live entertainment ecosystem better than anyone else, especially artists, venues, and fans. It’s not anti-competitive,” Live Nation said. Dan Wall, executive vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs, told The Hill.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster are the leaders in a wide range of live entertainment industries, from ticket sales to event promotion and venue management.

June report Live Nation operates 64 percent of the country’s top venues, 78 percent of which use Ticketmaster as their ticketing service, according to a study by the antitrust nonprofit American Economic Liberties Project (AELP). It turned out that it was used.

In a discussion with AELP last Tuesday, Klobuchar described Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s dominance in ticket sales, venues, and talent promotion as “one big triple monopoly,” with competing ticketing companies in the market. He called on Congress to pass “targeted legislative solutions” to help the country compete. .

The entertainment giant has hired three new lobbying firms and their influence brokers to tackle laws and regulations affecting the ticketing industry. They include former Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and former general counsel of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee. Seth Bloom of Bloom Strategies and veteran lobbyist Jennifer Stewart of Stewart Strategies and Solutions.

“It’s no secret that we have stepped up our advocacy efforts over the past year. Congress has focused more than ever on ticket sales policy, and ticket resellers and competitors are seeking to protect their competitive interests. “There is an unprecedented amount of lobbying that seeks to use the law to protect ticket scalping and deceptive sales practices to promote ticket sales,” Wall said.

There is common ground between lawmakers and Live Nation when it comes to proposed changes to the live entertainment landscape.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last January, Live Nation President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold called for expanding prohibitions against ticket purchases by bots and cracking down on deceptive resale tactics. It said the company welcomed the reform, which introduces an upfront price for tickets, known as “all”. -In pricing. ”

Last June, ticketing companies such as Ticketmaster and SeatGeek agreed to adopt all-in pricing rather than charging customers hidden fees at checkout. The measure marks a victory for President Biden’s efforts to crack down on “junk fees” across the industry.

Live Nation also supports the introduction of the Fan First Act, which the company and Brownstein lobbied for by Klobuchar and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in December. The bill would implement a number of changes, including increasing ticket price transparency, cracking down on illegal ticket sales, and banning bots from buying tickets.

A group of entertainment industry stakeholders including Eventbrite, Fix the Tix Coalition, and the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. also supported invoice.

“While this bill is a major step toward protecting consumers from predatory ticketing practices, we also need more competition in online ticketing,” Klobuchar told The Hill.

She pointed to the Unlocking the Ticketing Markets Act, which she introduced with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), which would force the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block “excessively long and exclusive” contracts. They argue that they block competitors and reduce innovation and incentives to innovate. Costs will increase.

“What we’re seeing is that Live Nation is building an ecosystem in the same way that many big technology companies use their power in one area to eliminate competition in another. “We’re starting to do that,” said Kathleen Bradish, Live Nation’s acting president. The former deputy director and international general counsel of the U.S. Antitrust Institute and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division spoke in discussions with AELP last Tuesday.

Live Nation’s hired guns have not disclosed their lobbying efforts on the Unlock Ticket Market Act, but have said they are working on other bills filed in the wake of Elas Tour presales. These bills include the BOSS Act and the SWIFT Act, which would require ticket sellers to be transparent about their ticket pricing, distribution, and refund policies, and the Major Event Tickets Act, which would use the FTC to enforce all-in pricing and bans. Includes Sales Rate Transparency Act. Speculative ticketing.

Live Nation also faces a series of investigations. In November, a Senate committee issued a subpoena for documents that could provide insight into Live Nation’s practices regarding ticket pricing, fees, and resale. The Department of Justice, which approved the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger in 2010, has also reportedly launched an investigation into whether Live Nation violated antitrust laws before the Elas tour presale.

Amid increased scrutiny, the concert industry has rebounded from the pandemic-induced industry crisis to post its best year ever. According to industry publication Pollstar, Total ticket sales Top 100 world tour sales increased to $9.2 billion in 2023, a 46% increase from record-setting 2022 sales.

Ticket prices have also increased in recent years, especially on the resale market. The average cost of a concert ticket in 2023 was $116.23 in 2023. June analysis by PollstarAccording to SeatGeek, the average resale price of a ticket has doubled from $125 in 2019 to $252.

Ticket prices fluctuate based on a variety of factors, but price changes are primarily determined by supply and demand. It also coincided with the resurgence of the live entertainment industry post-pandemic, with high demand for blockbuster tours such as Swift’s Elas Tour and Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour.

Demand is expected to continue to grow, drawing attention to legislative and regulatory initiatives that could reshape the live entertainment landscape. PwC’sGlobal entertainment and media landscape”, released in June 2023, predicted that annual live music revenue reached $9.5 billion last year and could reach $10.5 billion by 2027.

“We have had to rise to this challenge as advocates for ourselves and our industry, working closely with our artists and colleagues on the team. We will continue to do so for as long as necessary,” Wall said. Told.

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