Ticketmaster and Live Nation, two of the biggest online ticket vendors and promotional companies in the music industry, are being sued by Songkick over “antitrust violations, intentional interference, and anticompetitive behavior.”
Songkick has been on the rise in recent years. They supply users with an aggregated calendar of all music events of interest. They just wrapped up a pair of pre-sales for Adele and are planning to conduct more ticket sales on their site. With such big plans for the future, Songkick now seem to be taking the necessary steps to carve out their place in the concert ticketing domain
In a 68-page document filed with the U.S. District Court of Central California, Songkick claim that Live Nation and Ticketmaster made a conscious effort to restrict their business. The document outlines that Ticketmaster conducts 70% of general ticket sales and that Live Nation controls over 60% of concert promotion. Songkick is basically saying that these two companies are too big and they they deserver a piece of the action.
The complaint specifically sites an agreement that was made by Songkick with Ticketmaster and Live Nation over tickets that are sold by the specific band or artist. It's a common practice that musicians receives a specific number of tickets. Songkick helps artists sell these ticket bundles and promote the concert, but Ticketmaster implemented something called a "fan club policy" which puts restrictions on who these tickets can be sold to. Songkick says it only agreed to the terms provided by Ticketmaster because it was afraid to be on bad terms with the ticketing company and Live Nation.
The document sites a specific instance below:
Defendants threatened yet another artist (whose identity will be disclosed once a protective order is in place) that Defendants would not market the artist’s tour and would moreover not permit the artist to use Paperless Ticketing (a technology designed to inhibit scalping) on any general sale tickets for the artist’s tour if the artist opted to engage Songkick rather than Ticketmaster for artist presale ticketing services. If carried out, such threats to withhold marketing would clearly damage Defendants, because they would result in overall lower ticket sales for Ticketmaster’s concert venue ticketing business, and would result in lower revenues for Live Nation’s promotion business and Ticketmaster’s venue clients. In a competitive market, such threats would be economically irrational. Ticketmaster’s aggression therefore demonstrates the lengths to which Defendants were prepared to go in order to protect Ticketmaster’s market power, including damaging themselves and their clients in order to preserve that power. In this specific instance, the threat worked. As the artist’s management explained to Songkick: “[T]he Ticketmaster bullying is out of control and we’re not going to be able to do all tour pre-sales off-platform. They are just sticking it to us too hard.”
Songkick is looking to capitalize off presale ticketing, but Ticketmaster and Live Nation seem to be making an effort to hold them back. The two companies signed a consent decree in 2010 that discussed stipulations including Ticketmaster licensing to it's competitors like AEG, but did not cover presale tickets. The decree was intended to guarantee that the ticketing market would have at least two competitors. It also stated that they could not require artists to use Live Nation for promotion if they used Ticketmaster for ticketing. There has yet to be a comment from Ticketmaster or Live Nation in response to the allegations. We will have more information as it arises.