Live Nation subsidiaries received around $19m (£15.2m/€17.8m) in ‘Save our Stages’ funding from the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the US, despite the funds being intended for small venues.
In a report published by the Washington Post, it was revealed that Live Nation had urged Democrats and Republicans in Congress to let them be eligible for the program, even though Live Nation is a publicly traded company. The law was ultimately written to exclude public companies and firms they own or control, however, Live Nation subsidiaries – in which Live Nation has a substantial but not a majority stake in – were still able to access these funds.
The Post reviewed Securities and Exchange Commission filings, state corporate documents and SBA data, as well as interviews with executives at the companies that received the grants.
The report listed a number of companies listed as Live Nation subsidiaries in February SEC filings that received funding from the programme, according to SBA data. These companies included Frank Productions Concerts in Wisconsin which received $10m; artist management firm Gellman Management which banked nearly $407,000; and Missouri-based firm Delmar Hall, which received $1.75m.
Corporate documents filed in Wisconsin and California list Live Nation executives or subsidiaries having roles at both Frank Productions Concerts and Gellman Management.
The Pageant received $6.7m from the grant scheme, and along with Delmar Hall, is 50% owned by Live Nation, according to Patrick Hagin, who co-owns both businesses.
However, the report notes that the grants do not appear to have broken the law or any rules set by the SBA. The report said: “The revelation demonstrates how a large company with stakes in hundreds of smaller businesses could, while following the rules, reap a benefit that some legislators didn’t want. And it shows that how agencies implement a law can be just as important as the way it is written by Congress.”
In a statement to The Washington Post, Live Nation said that it does not have majority ownership or a controlling stake in the companies that received funds.
The live entertainment giant added: “Therefore we don’t have the ability to tell these partners that they can’t get access to these funds, especially considering the SBA reviewed and approved their applications before any funds were given out.
“These entities control their own day to day operations, and the folks running these small businesses used every resource legally available to them to support their employees through this crisis, which was not only their right but also an entirely understandable and human thing to do.”