WASHINGTON D.C. (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Seth Hurwitz's I.M.P., and I.M.A. (Merriweather Post Pavilion) quietly filed a lawsuit in March against promoter Live Nation, alleging that the company is operating in violation of anti-trust laws.
In court filings obtained by CelebrityAccess, Hurwitz' lawyers contend that Live Nation uses its network of venues and dominant national position in the live touring market to squeeze out competitors in what the lawsuit describes as "unlawful anticompetitive, predatory and exclusory practices."
The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction preventing Live Nation from continuing their alleged monopolistic business practices and also seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
The court documents contain 11 different counts against Live Nation, describing alleged violations of both Federal (The Sherman Act) and Maryland anti-trust laws. The complaint also contains a wide-ranging depiction of how Live Nation allegedly uses its position to control the business and tortiously interfere with their rivals.
Among the allegations leveled against the promoter are claims that Live Nation requires touring artists to agree to not perform at non Live Nation-operated venues. Hurwitz' attorneys also contend that Live Nation's influence in the live touring sector constitutes a monopoly and that "Live Nation presently
exercises monopoly power in 19 of the 25 largest markets in the United States for the provision of venues and venue services."
The lawsuit also alleges that Live Nation pushes artists who perform dates in non-Live Nation venues to require the promoters and venues pay a percentage of their profits — sometimes as much as 25% — to Live Nation.
This isn't the first time that Hurwitz has sparred with Live Nation. Hurwitz has remained an independent promoter in the face of the trend towards vertical integration in the industry, operating the successful 9:30 club in Washington D.C. along with the Merriweather Post Pavilion. Last year, Hurwitz competed with Live Nation over ownership of a theatre in nearby Silver Spring, Maryland and earlier this year, Hurwitz appeared with Jam Production's Jerry Mickelson, testifying in front of Congress against a proposed merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster.
During the testimony, Hurwitz pointed out that if Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged, that through IMP's dealings with Ticketmaster, sensitive business information would be exposed to IMP's chief competitor, Live Nation.
"At this point I am going to let the suit, which we have been preparing for more than a year, speak for itself. It says it all and I would prefer people read it and fully understand the claims we are making. But, basically, we contend that the essence of the tour deal is to use monopoly power to force artists to play only for Live Nation venues and where they wouldn't otherwise, to the detriment of concertgoers, independent promoters and the artists," Hurwitz said.
"There is a huge difference between enticing artists to play your venues by doing a better job, versus forcing them to play your venues by controlling the market and the acts. Live Nation has attempted to portray this as evolution into a better business model, but we contend that it is intended to prevent fair legitimate competition, which is illegal," Hurwitz added. "All I want is the opportunity to compete fairly, and we are asking the Court to give us that opportunity." – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers