Industry News

AIF claims Live Nation’s UK festival dominance should “ring alarm bells”

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) trade body has warned that Live Nation is becoming too dominant in the UK festival sector.

With Live Nation’s proposed acquisition of the Isle of Wight Festival currently under investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the AIF released research that shows the US giant already owns nearly 25 per cent of the UK festival market.

Live Nation currently owns 28 UK festivals, including Download, V Festival, Reading and Leeds, Parklife, Creamfields, Lovebox, Wilderness and Latitude, according to AIF.

Its announcement that it would be acquiring a majority stake in the Isle of Wight Festival, along with John Giddings and Solo Agency, led the CMA to launch an investigation into whether there is a “substantial lessening of competition” as a result of the deal. An initial decision is due by September 14.

The closest competition to Live Nation in the UK is Global, which owns an eight-per-cent share of the market, while the remainder is owned mostly by independent festivals such as Glastonbury and Bestival.

According to Music Week, general manager of AIF Paul Reed said: “For the sake of its future health and diversity it is vital that the UK’s live music sector remains open and competitive. We continually need new artists to break through, and entrepreneurs to launch fresh and exciting events.

“The live music sector is fiercely competitive, but data we have published today rings several alarm bells – highlighting that a single transnational corporation is fast-headed towards widespread dominance. For independent festival operators, a Live Nation monopoly would quite simply be a stranglehold with profound and serious consequences.”

He added: “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.

“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. On this basis, we have urged the CMA to extend their investigations beyond acquisition of the Isle of Wight Festival and into Live Nation’s position in the market overall.”

Image: David Martyn Hunt