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AIF Calls For Regulatory Scrutiny Of Live Nation UK’s Festival Business

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LONDON (CelebrityAccess) — AIF, the Association of Independent Festivals, has called on the UK competition watchdog to investigate what they allege is Live Nation’s stranglehold on the festival industry in the UK.

“Live Nation now owns or controls 25.6% of UK festivals over 5,000 capacity. The American corporation’s festival market share is over three times that of its nearest rival Global, which controls 8% of the UK’s festivals over 5,000 capacity through promoter Broadwick Live,” AIF said in a statement released on Monday.

By contrast, AIF notes that their members account for 20% of the market over 5,000 capacity, with 65 festivals and 37 individual companies across the membership.

In response, the organization has created an online “stamp” which they say will allow festival-fans to easily identify independently operated festivals. They have also created a map which shows how many of the music festivals in the country are controlled by Live Nation.

Over the past year, Live Nation has been actively acquiring festival events, including two prominent UK promoters in Robomagic and Metropolis Music, and last year, the promoter-giant acquired a majority stake the Isle of Wight festival. That’s in addition to their existing portfolio of events, which includes the twinned Reading and Leeds festivals, Download, Rize, Latitude, Creamfields and Parklife festivals, among others.

One independent promoter spoke to the Guardian about the challenges of acquiring talent for indie festivals. The promoter, who asked to remain nameless, told the newspaper that due to exclusivity clauses, it was virtually impossible to book artists for events, including up-and-coming acts.

“Nobody wins from that,” he told The Guardian. “We’ve all got an interest in the bands and the scene flourishing. Muse, U2, Madonna, they all learned their trade by playing festivals where they can. This is the height of anticompetitive behaviour, restricting bands from playing live shows.”

“AIF’s festival ownership map paints a stark picture of the sector. Allowing a single company to dominate festivals, and the live music sector in general, through vertical integration reduces the amount of choice and value for money for music fans. It can block new entrants to market,  result in strangleholds on talent through exclusivity deals and stifle competition throughout the entire live music business,” AIF’s Paul Allen said.

We reached out to Live Nation UK for comment.

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